Every day a woman elder followed the path down to the stream to get water, which she brought back in two rawhide buckets on the ends of a pole she carried across her shoulders. One of the buckets had a tear in it, while the other was perfect. By the time the woman made it back to her lodge, the torn bucket would be half empty.
Four turns of the seasons passed, and each day the perfect bucket grew more proud of himself for being able to deliver a full measure of water. “I am ashamed of myself,” said the torn bucket. “I am a failure—this tear in my side lets water leak out all the way back up the trail.”
The kind elder looked over to him, laid her hand upon his damaged, water-stained skin, and smiled. “Have you noticed all the herbs and flowers that now grow on the left side of the trail?” she said. “And look at the Mice and Birds and Butterflies who have come to live there. The right side of the trail is still dry and dusty. That’s because I have always carried you on the left—my gifting side—which is closest to my heart. Rather than seeing you as flawed and arriving half empty day after day, I saw you as half full and overflowing with generosity. You trusted, you shared your gift with your hoop of relations. In the way that giving is receiving, you have made room within yourself for the beauty and nourishment that has come from your gifting. And it is not only you, but the perfect bucket, and me, and so many others we cannot know, who have been bathed in your blessings.”