In the ancient world, potsherds, the broken remains of pots, corresponded to today’s nuisance of plastic; like plastic, the sherds were everywhere, either discarded by their owners or left in the aftermath of wars or natural disasters.

Once broken and patched, the pot could only store dry goods. Water, wines, oils, critical to sustain life, demanded intact vessels.

It should be no surprise that the commonplace sherd was often used metaphorically in the bible in its negative sense. In the book of psalms, we find:

My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

The image is also found in the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, the book of Proverbs. Even Job took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.

But ancients also used sherds in a positive sense: to write prophetic texts and messages, to carry hot coals from one house to another, to dip water from springs or cisterns, and to cover cooking pots or storage jars.

The image of the ancient potsherd suggests the global upheaval instigated by Vladimir Putin—Its brokenness sears. Horrific gaming fills the media; killing and maiming and death leave bloody footprints and ravaged spirits; the Face of Evil leers.

Eleven days into Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine evidences, in my perception, the power of prayer-sherds hurled into the Universe: small, insignificant on the surface, but effective in spiriting its people, under siege, and slowing down the enemy’s tactics.

Will Ukraine become another broken pot? Become sherds for political analysis?