Monday, December 13, 2010

A Broken Jar

When I moved to an apartment community in South Austin last February, I knew I was going through a life change. Not only was I moving physically, but also starting this job in which I was to create community among the residents who were my neighbors. I knew it would not be an easy job. My teammate and I were the first ones to attempt this task in that particular community. I was very optimistic as we signed the dotted lines for a two year commitment. In the beginning, every conversation I had with a passing dog-walker was an exciting chance to enjoy this new opportunity.
After 9 months, the manager decided that the job was not a good fit for us. The program that sent us there also decided we were not a good fit. Now that it is over, it is hard not to look back on it as wasted time and a failure. Despite our efforts, objectives were not accomplished. It is easy to blame people and solve the problem in hindsight, yet it does not really matter.
In Mark 13, a woman interrupts Jesus’ meal by anointing him with expensive perfume. The pragmatic on-lookers suggest that what she was doing was wrong. After all, she could have sold that perfume for a high price and given it to the poor. Jesus did not share the opinion of the on-lookers. Jesus basically said “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me...She did what she could.” Despite the perceived insignificance of this woman’s action, this story has made it’s way through 2000 years into my mind and heart.
May be this can be a new way to look at failure. May be our efforts were a broken jar of perfume that provide a brief moment of pleasant scent before fading away. But Jesus smells it’s sweetness and knows that it is symbolic of that which is good in the hearts of humankind. It feels as if everything has returned to square one, but a broken jar exists as a testimony of a heart’s devotion, even after the scent has faded.

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