He said I don’t deserve his love because I love him too much.
I am looking at a very strange painting inside the Master’s house. The upper right corner of the canvas shows a flying crow, clutching a white paper airplane in its claws. Below them is a silhouette of a man, holding the string of a yellow kite that flies high, reaching the upper left corner. Under the kite is a red balloon, its white string tied to an old paint brush. It has been my desire to know the story behind this painting since my first visit.
“You’re early today,” the Master says from behind me, a hint of pride and approval in his voice.
“I was bored,” I answer, still looking at the peculiar painting on the wall.
He laughs, and I feel my cheeks burn. “Ah, young women. Get inside then. Your canvas is waiting.” He touches my shoulder, ushering me to the studio.
“Master, would you mind telling me about this painting?” I ask, not moving. He removes his hand from my shoulder to face the painting on the wall. “It’s just that every time I see this picture, I feel a vague sense of sadness. I was hoping you’d tell me the story. It might help with my training.”
Sensing his dilemma, I attempt to take my question back. “… or it might not, I guess.”
“It is a story of letting go.” I hear him say in a whisper.
“How so?” I ask. I believe that letting go means freedom. As I look into the Master’s painting, however, I do not feel any sense of being free. If anything, I feel trapped.
“Or perhaps a story of love,” he continues. I asked him to say more, through silence. “The three times that I fell in love.”
Three, my mind repeats. I let him continue.
“First, it was with an airplane that I made out of paper. She was very simple, yet very beautiful.
I taught her how to fly. It was fascinating to watch her fly as far as the wind would take her. And when I see hints of her landing, I would run to catch her so she would not reach the ground. We were very happy… but then she began to want more.
‘Higher, higher!’ She would say, ‘throw me higher so I can reach the sky!’
I wanted to tell her that paper airplanes were not made for the skies, but she was so ecstatic… and lovely. I was her Master, but I was the one succumbing to her will.
So I climbed the highest tree, and threw her as high as my force would let me.
She was doing so great… but then I saw crows approaching. She was too far from my reach and I could not save her. From the tree, I helplessly watched as a crow grabbed her and took her away from me… to the skies.
The second time was when I learned to make a kite. She had a very optimistic soul, and her happiness was contagious. Learning from the past, I made a string that would always connect us. That no matter how high she went, she would always be within my reach. So I could always save her. So no one could take her away.
One day, the only day I forgot to check the weather, strong winds came. I knew she was not strong enough, so I tried to pull her back to me for safety.
‘No! I want to stay!’ She resisted, bursting with optimism. ‘I can do this, please believe in me.’ She was so determined. And once again, I found myself helpless.
I stopped pulling and watched as the winds tossed her from side to side. I tried to fight for her, but then she stopped me. ‘No, please, just look away,’ she said, all happiness removed from her voice.
When the winds stopped raging, I pulled her to me, promising to heal her. To bring her back.
‘Please, just leave me here,’ she whispered.
I left without her. Grieving.
The third and last time was with a very attractive balloon. My neighbor, a little boy, asked me to watch over her for a little while. The boy never came back.
I kept her with me, eventually falling in love. I took her everywhere with me, proud of holding something so beautiful in my hand. But after a walk in a park, everything changed.
In that park was a group of people laughing while holding balloons in their hands. ‘You’re the most beautiful,’ I told her and she smiled. We watched as together, they lifted their hands and let go of their balloons. We watched as the people clapped their hands and cheered. We watched as the balloons went higher and higher, until they were out of sight.
I looked at the beautiful balloon in my hand. Must I also let her go?
‘Let’s go home,’ she said, and I held her tighter.
As soon as we got home, she asked me to tie her around my arm forever and never let her go. I did as told with a grateful heart, because that was what I also wanted. I would never let her out of my sight.
It was later that I realized my mistake. Balloons were made to fly. I watched as little by little she got smaller and weaker. When the time came that she was too weak to object, I removed her from my arm and tried to make her fly… but it was too late.
My beautiful balloon died in my hand… where she did not belong.”
“And that, dear girl, is what this painting’s about,” the Master says, his voice coarse from telling the story.
I try to hide my tears before facing him. It was a terribly sad, and lonely story. “Have you ever met a Boomerang, Master?” I ask him, trying to lighten the mood.
“I’m afraid not, why do you ask?”
“Well, because once you let a Boomerang go… it can find its way back to you.” I tell him, trying to smile.
He chuckles. “It’s best we proceed with your training before you say anything more.”
J I K E L
He checked the letters he wrote on the paper before showing his father.
Father clapped heartily. “Very good! You learn fast!”
He beamed at the man, pride swelling in his young heart. He was the happiest child whenever he was taught new things by his father. He loves learning, and being praised when he learns them fast.
“Come here,” his father said, and he obeyed. When they were close, Father lifted him and made him sit on his strong lap. “Papa’s so proud of you!” The man pulled him in an embrace.
Jikel didn’t know how long his arms were around his father, but he was sure that this was the longest embrace they have ever shared. And he felt happy…
The child closed his eyes, finding comfort in his father’s warmth.
A cool breeze came through the open window of their humble shack, and he felt his father quiver. Thinking that it was from the cold, and feeling cold himself, he tightened his little embrace. Only, it made Father quiver more.
Jikel wasn’t closing his eyes anymore. “Papa?”
The man did not respond and the trembling continued.
It was when his father let go of him that he caught the man wipe his eyes. Father was crying. The man then faced him, giving him the best smile despite the sad eyes. “You really are like your Mama.”
“Yes. You’re both very smart…” the man was combing his messy hair with his rough and calloused fingers.
“Oh…” Jikel’s young mind processed what his father said. “But Papa, aren’t you smart?”
Father laughed, but it did not quite reach his eyes.
“Your mother was the intelligent one.” The man said, his gaze somewhere above him. Perhaps on their wet wooden door or their creaky cabinet… he wasn’t sure.
“But sometimes… she doesn’t think.” His father smiled weakly…
“She chose me…”
Jikel just gave him a confused look, not understanding what he meant.
His father finally looked at him, a kind smile from his tired face. “It’s nothing, son… your Papa just remembered something.”
Another breeze touched his skin.
“I got my good looks from you, so it doesn’t matter. Don’t cry anymore.”
Somehow it just made his father cry harder.
~ a continuation to Confessions from the Cracked Pot ~
The sound of the trumpets, lyres, and tambourines filled my heart with joy, knowing that the song they were playing was for me.
A celebration of my return… of my freedom… of my wholeness.
I still could not believe that I am not a cracked pot anymore.
“I knew you’d make it,” someone said from behind me. It was a voice so familiar that my thoughts froze in an instant.
“The Sailor?” I whispered my thoughts, bewildered.
“Indeed, I am.” He smiled and sat down beside me by the shore. I didn’t know if it was me, or it just got colder. Was I seeing the Sailor’s ghost? Did I not survive the fire from the pirate’s boat? Did I die with the Sailor?
“Yes. You, my dear pot, died with me.” He answered, hearing my thoughts. Only Him and the Potter could do that. “You died with me, but contrary to what you think, you have survived the fire.”
“Dying, my friend, is not the same as losing.”
“So… that means, I am now a ghost?” I dared ask, disappointment slowly creeping in my heart.
He just laughed at my question. “It seems that you have listened to a lot of ghost stories while you were there in another land.” He lightly shook his head, still smiling. “I was not talking about physical death, for you are still fully alive.”
“Your past. It was the one that died with me that day.”
“I see… so I survived the fire.” He nodded in response, and I relaxed in relief.
“But… I saw you die, physically! How come you can still talk to me, and touch me?”
He took some time before answering, his eyes watching the waves as they softly touch the sand.
“There is a Love that exists that can conquer death and grave. That greatest form of Love is in my very being.”
In silence, I waited for his next words. The joyful sound of the instruments faded in my ears, and all I could hear was His voice.
“My dear friend, I love you, as my Father loves you… and this Love has conquered death so that I may live, not only with you, but here…” He pointed the spot where there was once a heart-shaped crack. “Within you…”
My heart throbbed though I could not fully comprehend the words of the Potter’s Son.
I am loved… and I think knowing that is enough… for now.
After a long, reassuring silence, he spoke again.
“Dear pot, it is time that you learn to live without your crack.” The Sailor slowly rose to his feet as he said this. “We’ll talk again, sometime.”
He turned and walked from the shore.
He knelt down and picked some wild flowers from the ground, and with trembling hands he placed them inside me. The boy cried, watering the flowers with his tears.
I had no idea why he was crying.
He stood from the ground and walked with me in his arms until we were inside a little tattered shack which, as I presumed, was his home. The shack was in a pitiful condition, but at least it was a lot better than where the beggar once slept.
The first thing I saw was the figure on the floor, curled up in between a sleeping mat and a soiled blanket. It was a sleeping woman in her midlife, though her condition made her look a lot older. It would not take a genius to know that the woman had been sick for quite a long time.
“Mama,” the boy whispered as helped the woman to a sitting position while still holding me.
“Look what I’ve found, Mama,” the boy said. “A pot just like the ones you’ve been collecting before.. See, it has a lovely heart-shaped crack too… But this one’s the most beautiful… It has the largest heart.”
It took me a while to realize that the boy was talking about me. I had no idea that my crack was heart-shaped, and it had been so long since I was last called beautiful…
But no matter how much I wanted to believe the boy, I could not.
A heart-shaped crack, no matter how beautiful it might seem to them, is still a crack.
The boy’s mother looked at me – at my crack specifically, and smiled faintly. She cupped the boy’s face with her pale hands and whispered. “Yes, my child, the pot is lovely, thank you… and the flowers are beautiful.” She kissed the boy’s cheek and embraced him, a bead of tear falling from her eye.
Each day after that, the boy and I would go out and pick some wild flowers for his mother. He believed that doing this would restore his mother’s health, for collecting pots and flowers made her happy. And happiness, as some would say, is the best medicine.
It was the very first time that I felt useful… I have learned to love the boy and the woman, and willingly served them. They became my home.
But still, I failed.
His mother died eventually with me in her hands. Another death in my life as a stray pot.
One day, when the boy was walking by the sea, he cried his heart out. He gave me one last teary look before throwing me into the waters.
I thought it was the end of me… but surprise, here I am, floating a midst a heavy storm, as waters slowly penetrate my fragile body. I feel heavy and weak. I wonder how long I must endure before the waves crash over me…
and then somewhere, from within me, I heard a voice saying “be still.”
And for the very first time, I listened.
(To be continued)