. Jesus says: “The Kingdom of the Father is like a woman who takes a vessel of flour and sets out on a long road. The handle of the vessel broke: the flour spilled out on the road behind her without her knowing it and stopping it. When she arrived at the house she put the vessel down and found it was empty.”
Parables are so wonderfully rich – different meanings arise from the parable for each person who reads them, and can change over time based on our circumstance and present awareness. I had read this parable in the past, and simply thought it was about finding oneself broken and empty as we journey the spiritual path, but now I find new meaning.
This parable suggests to me that the kingdom of heaven is an unexpected thing, and that it is nothing to do with what we are able to carry, but rather, what we are able to lose. Some of us live our lives accidentally, unaware of what we leave behind on the path. However, it may be that in loosing what we have, in becoming empty of what we carry that we enter this kingdom of God. The kingdom of heaven is an awareness of the presence of God within us. It is in this void, in the emptiness that a state of grace can be felt.
When the parable ends, there are so many unanswered questions. For example, I wonder about the significance of the broken handle – it was not a crack in the bottom of the vessel that leaked the meal, but rather the handle – the very part of the vessel in the woman’s hand. Surely the weight of the vessel became lighter as she walked; yet the woman did not even notice this. Why is it meal or flour, her humble food that is lost, and not her wealth or knowledge or her self-concept? How did the woman feel about this loss? In Blatz’s translations this loss is alluded to, “…she had not noticed the misfortune,” but this evaluation is not mentioned in all of the translations. I wonder what is the woman’s reaction when she finds her jar broken and empty? It is suggested that this empty vessel connotes recognizing that one’s life is meaningless, broken, and without true substance. However, becoming empty and finding oneself in the kingdom of heaven could also be akin to feeling complete freedom from the burdens you carry.