Our Preservation Project Architect, Margaret Westfield, shared this insightful Chinese proverb with us:
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it; while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers which then decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
The lesson to this story: ‘Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.’
At times, Hartmut and I see these church buildings like the cracked pot, especially when yet another squirrel finds its way into our office through the broken soffits. (I guess that’s part of the reason Margaret Westfield sent us this story.) However, there are so many advantages to these dear old buildings. And it’s more than their charm of the history that they breathe. More than anything, it is always amazing how they can seem to be falling apart, but they are able to be fixed, adapted, renovated, and to house so many different groups. Strangely, in the midst of the terrible storm at the beginning of March, most of New Brunswick lost power. There were manhole fires, and emergency repair vehicles worked on George Street for days. Yet, our church had power. In fact, even the NJ Gay Men’s Chorus was able to hold their Cabaret show. It was as if we were a ship in the midst of rocky sea. The ship did not sink.
Similarly, our congregation has such ability, even if it is small and our concern about the finances be true. Still, there is so much potential and willingness of many to do things that it is possible to hope for the future ministry. Why, just take a look at the great renovation of the women’s bathroom if you doubt it!
So many hands were involved in it’s renovation. And so many others cleaned out other nooks and crannies that we were able to fill a huge dumpster (see pictures on pg. 10). Who would have thought there was still so much to throw away?
Hopefully, you will not see our church facilities nor even our congregational members as just “cracked pots.” May it be so that you see the flaws but also the great and wonderful possibilities in all, so that you too are inspired with all that we are doing.