Sheltered Reflections #10

By Maureen Kalbus

Sheltering at home, still immersed in murky air and watching on television the devastation wrought by the West Coast fires, and man’s inhumanity to man, we are constantly reminded of the flaws in human nature. Along with strengths, gifts and talents, about which I previously wrote, as humans, we also have weaknesses and flaws. Realizing these and choosing what to do with them, fashions the person each of us becomes.

Being a perfectionist, a flaw in itself which causes me immense frustration, I am very aware of my imperfections. Over the course of my adult life, I have made conscious efforts to improve/reverse/eradicate them. One permanent physical flaw is hidden in my left eye: I have been told it is unique, but can only be seen by opticians using their special implements. A lining didn’t peel away, and, apparently, has created an iridescent arc. Years ago, I was asked to attend practical exams for medical students at a local hospital, my left eye being the specimen for them to examine and identify the phenomenon, usually only seen in text books.

A major short coming that causes immense frustration, but, conversely, has led me on hilarious adventures, is the fact that I am directionally impaired. If I turn round once, I lose my direction. Any outing is a challenge for me, even when I am armed with a map and directions: I creatively interpret them, ending up somewhere else! If I previously have visited a place, I am not guaranteed finding it any subsequent time! When I think about it, I have spent half my life lost!

While living in Sydney, I was invited to a wedding in the city center. The reception was in a nearby, smart restaurant, snuggled in Hyde Park. On foot, I thought I knew where I was going, but, to be sure, I stopped a jogger coming out of the park. Before I could ask directions, he drawled ”Are you going to the wedding?” “I am,“ I said. “Well go through the gates, turn left, then veer right, and you’ll come across the bridal party.” “Great! Thank you,” I beamed, and followed the directions, only to find myself at someone else’s wedding! It took me considerable time to find my friend’s reception, as I had no idea where to turn in the labyrinth of paths. Fortunately, I happened on the gathering, just as guests were being seated.

Do you have flaws? Physically? In your Personality?

Have you tried to correct them? Have you succeeded?

One of the most loved and sung hymns around America and the world is “Amazing Grace”. It was written by John Newton, a deeply flawed individual, who turned his life around, becoming a Church of England minister, and carrying out great works. Written from his own experiences, the hymn’s message is forgiveness and redemption. “Amazing grace! [how sweet the sound] That sav’d a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now I’m found, Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears reliev’d;

How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home…”

Each Sunday, before our church service, Pastor Scott asks for grace to abound, as those leading the service wend their way through it. All are human, and mistakes can happen!

Fortunately, as Christians, we are loved in spite of our flaws. We are always given the opportunity to repent and improve. The Bible is full of people who had significant flaws, but were used by God for great purposes. Consider a few: Abraham [Genesis 12] Jacob [Genesis 27] Joseph [Genesis 37] Moses [Exodus 2] Gideon [Judges 6] Samson [Judges 15] David [2 Samuel 11-12]

In the New Testament, Jesus welcomed sinners and flawed people who had lost their way and made wrong choices. He never turned them away. Mary Magdalene [Luke 8 v 2] and Peter [Luke 22 v 60] became stanch disciples. Illustrating His support of those who had lost their way, Jesus told the Parable of the Prodigal Son [Luke 15 V 11-32] In Acts 9 v 4-9, we read about the conversion of Saul, a persecutor of Christians; as Paul, he became a key leader in the early church. Once we acknowledge our weaknesses and make the decision to address them, we can achieve mightily!

“The Cracked Pot” Author unknown.

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung at the end 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 walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For two full 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 the two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the woman one day by the stream, “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak all the way back to the 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 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 the beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaw. Sometimes it is in our very weakness that we also find our strength. It is the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them, and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path.

As you venture into the lifting murkiness,

“May the sun bring you new energy by day.

May the moon softly restore you by night.

May the rain wash away your worries.

May the breeze blow new strength into your being.

May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.”

Apache Blessing

Best wishes for the days ahead,

Maureen Kalbus

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First Presbyterian San Anselmo is a progressive, inclusive Christian community blessed with meaningful worship, people who care for one another, diverse ministries for all ages, and a passion for justice and service.


(415) 456-3713


72 Kensington Road

San Anselmo, CA  94960


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