The Broken Pottery Shop by Debra L. Hall

In a time when the world had lost the concept of forgiveness and had forgotten the meaning of love, a young girl named Rayna walked to the edge of sadness and there she took up residence in a rundown cottage, overgrown by tangled brambles. “It is better to be alone than lonely,” she reasoned. The humble dwelling had once belonged to a cruel man who, over time, had filled the rooms with broken dreams, shattered plans and mismatched cast-a-ways. Every nook and cranny was smothered in cobwebs and dark secrets. Gloomy shadows refused to give way to light. Rayna recognized the despair. It was the very likeness of her wretched past. She thought it a suitable home.

Nonetheless, Rayna’s family had instilled kindness in her. They had taught her the true meaning of goodness and love. She still wanted to believe in happiness. She thought by separating herself she could re-invent virtue and thus re-discover faith. and so began her long journey.

She built a roaring fire in the grate and kept it burning for many days and long countless nights. She threw dreadful thoughts and painful feelings from her tremulous past into the flames. She shouted every lost dream and wish at the inferno, even those lurking in her cottage. When at last the fire dwindled away, a calm breeze parted the curtains and washed over her. She took in a long deep breath and felt her empty heart filling with all that is beautiful and pure.

Rayna’s father was a potter. While Rayna was growing up, he taught her to create by molding and shaping the earth. Warm memories stirred inside her as she propped a sign in the window facing the footpath. It read: “The Broken Pottery Shop.”

So it was that Rayna began to heal. She gathered clay from the earth. She molded, shaped and re-shaped. She twisted and tied and added brilliant colors made from discarded leaves and tangled wildflowers. Finally, warm energy filled her soul with vibrant light.

As word of Rayna’s creations spread, the villagers began to bring their broken pottery to her. They offered trade goods in exchange for repairs to their once beautiful possessions. Rayna obtained an over abundance of ill-looking jugs, vases, bowls, urns and lame statues. After countless broken items appeared outside her door, she replaced the sign in the window with one that read: Closed for repairs.

Day after day Rayna stared at the pathetic mounds of damaged pottery. She wept when she realized that everyone had kept shattered remnants of their past. Perhaps what they really wanted, she thought, was that last nurturing moment of happiness, a sense of having been useful, having belonged to someone or something.

Rayna set to work, not re-shaping or adding bright color or covering over the flaws. Instead, she cleaned and buffed the vessels, revealing once again all that had been buried by time and wear.

One day she turned her sign around and slowly, one by one, the villagers came trailing down the cobbled path. They brought chickens, baked goods, dried herbs and jars filled with precious oil. They lugged jugs full of milk and huge rounds of cheese along with homespun cloth in exchange for their wares. When they entered the warm tranquil abode, they were immediately drawn to their belongings. The imperfections were still there. The lids were cracked, the spouts broken, the handles gone and the clay worn and frail looking. But now they caressed beauty and life. Every piece of ware was brimming with rich soil, small pebbles from a nearby creek, tiny sprouting leaves, green trailing vines and a tapestry of colorful blossoms surrounding youthful buds full of promise, if afforded even the faintest ray of sunlight. Splashes of rain water pooled in chipped mugs patched with moss, ready for the song birds.

The villagers left, with light in their eyes and smiles on their faces. Rayna’s heart leaped and faith in goodness took root inside of her.

That night, she lay awake gazing at the starlight twinkling on the window pane. She was soothed by her innermost thoughts, like long ago, before the world had forgotten the meaning of love and forgiveness. She no longer wanted to be alone. If despair should greet her again, she would shove it away. With that thought in mind, she closed her eyes and her heart gave birth to peace.

The next day she gathered her meager belongings and walked to the center of all that is good. She vowed from that moment on to look for the worth in every hand full of clay and every broken vessel.


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Author: Jeff

I teach English at Westside High School and Composition at Metropolitan Community College. I have been an online editor for Fine Lines since we revamped to Wordpress some time in 2009.

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