How I Went from being a Cracked Pot to an Earthen Vessel


Larry Duffany

“Fix it Daddy!”

My, then, 5 year-old daughter came running up to me, with tears running down her chubby little cheeks. In her trembling, stubby fingers were the remnants of a clay cup she had made and painted for me in her kindergarten “art class.”

No matter how hard I tried to calm her, to tell her it would be ok, she cried all the harder. I sat down at the kitchen table, put down some newspaper, and laid the shards and chunks out before me. With some superglue, a brush, and a magnifying glass, I spent several hours poring over the pieces trying to restore the little clay cup.

When I was done, it resembled what it once was, but it wasn’t perfect. I called my daughter in and showed it to her. I was sure that the scars from the glue and the changed size would have displeased her. Expecting to hear more crying, I was surprised by a screech of pure glee. “Daddy!” She exclaimed. “I love it! Now we can say that this is our cup!” I was perplexed yet pleased. At her insistence, we repainted that cup together in various bright colors and a sticker!

I hadn’t thought about that story for a very long time, but after writing last week’s post about the Road to Emmaus (really the road back to Jerusalem), that story came back to me in a very new and different way.

Made of Clay

How many times have we heard the phrase, “feet made of clay?” It refers to a person we admire who has a hidden weakness that can lead to their downfall. Well, to be honest, I never saw myself as a person who had only his feet made of clay. Actually, I saw myself made completely of clay.

What I mean is that I was fragile, imperfect and rough around the edges. Like any piece of pottery, I had my defects – my weak points, and I was aware of most of them. By the time I became an adult, I was broken in many different ways, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But that would soon change, miraculously!

A Cracked Pot and A Glue Called Mercy

It was then that I had my Emmaus Road Experience. It was then that I had my most profound encounters with God. I was just like my little five year-old, crying, “Daddy, fix it.” Only, it was me, an adult. The shards that I was holding were the fragments of my life. And on my knees, I was crying, “Abba (Daddy) fix it.”

And so he did! God took the fragments and laid them out before him. He set to work piecing me back together. Only he didn’t use superglue like I had. He used a supernatural glue that we call mercy.

It was only recently that I learned what mercy really is. In Latin the word is Misericordia which roughly means misery in the heart. Perfect! So, my encounter with God was his entering into my misery to heal me, to take the broken parts and fashion them as he wills into something new.

What God did was to lavish his mercy on the jagged edges of the fragments of my life. And since I am made of clay, I am porous.  That means that the mercy he supplied and applied in copious amounts filtered deep into the clay and didn’t stay just on the surface creating a a flimsy bond. Rather, I was grafted to him and cemented together.

Like the cup I had fixed for my daughter, I still have scars – some visible, some not. I understand, today, that what my daughter reveled in with her cup – with our cup – was the evidence of her father’s hand at work…and so it is with me! I gratefully acknowledge that my encounter with God’s mercy has made me whole. I can see that my scars are evidence of God’s healing hand at work in my life. Not only that, but with each new day and each new graced experience, the Father and I repaint the outside of this cup.

An Earthen Vessel for Grace

Today I am whole. I will not say that I am perfect, but I am making progress every day. So how should I respond to God’s merciful act? I do so by recognizing something very important. When God saves, he does not simply save us from something, he also saves us for something! That something is our purpose. God transformed me from a cracked pot into an earthen vessel.


So you may be thinking, “What’s the difference?”

First, a cracked pot is hole-ly (pun intended) in the wrong way and simply sits there unable to be of service.

Second, a vessel carries something from one place to another. Its purpose is two-fold….to be filled up and to pour out for others whatever’s inside it. And so we are called to be holy – set aside for God’s purpose of being poured out.

In fixing this cracked pot, he has called me to be a vessel of his grace, bringing that grace to others, to be poured out on and for others. I have also noticed that the base of this vessel isn’t quite level.  That is probably not exactly news to those who know me. As a result, this vessel is never quite full. That’s because the grace that God pours into me overflows before I reach capacity…

In a way, that is good news.

“Why?” you ask.

My answer is simple. It means that I must always rely on God to keep pouring his grace into me – not for my sake alone, but for others.

Another truth is this. I’m still made of clay. I still crack sometimes. God is always right there with his mercy to seal the crack and restore me.

What About You?

Are you a cracked pot, made of clay?

Are there fragments or shards of your life that need to be glued back into place?

Are you wondering what your purpose is?

I know a Master Potter who has amazing glue that can transform you into a vessel of his grace too. All you have to do is turn around and ask.

Published by

Larry Duffany

Larry is first and foremost a husband and father, married for more than 20 years to his wife Janet, they make their home with their two children, Hannah and Gabriel in Thomaston, CT. A career Catholic school educator, Larry has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He currently serves as the Chair of the Religion Department at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Connecticut. In addition to his full-time teaching, Larry also facilitates adult faith formation courses for the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) at the University of Dayton and is an adjunct instructor at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. In his spare time, Larry volunteers with Thomaston Volunteer Ambulance Corps where he is an EMT and a member of their training team.

2 thoughts on “How I Went from being a Cracked Pot to an Earthen Vessel”

  1. I loved this. I was reminded that I am not quite put together yet the way I am supposed to be but am always in the Potter’s Hands & He is always shaping & molding me into what He needs me to be. Thank you for this.

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