hands of the potter

About 6 years ago my very good friend Nicole invited me to take a pottery class at her local suburban community center. I've always considered myself a little crafty, and decided to take her up on the invitation. It turned out that there were only 3 of us in the class, so we got a lot of personalized instruction from John the pottery guy (as I like to call him). He was a bit of a character, but a good teacher. Unfortunately, I it seems am not a potter. Crafty yes. Potter no.

One night after I arrived at class and pulled my latest project off the shelf of pieces that had been fired in the kiln, I felt John the pottery guy peering over my shoulder. "Hmmmm," he said. "Your pieces are very .... [insert very long pause] organic." I've always thought it was very kind of John the pottery guy to pull that generic adjective out of his repertoire. It could be a compliment, or it could be an accurate description of the lump of clay that I had carefully formed into, well, a lump of clay.

There is one piece that I kept from that class. It sits on my desk and holds my assorted pens, pencils, etc... It's theoretically a flower pot, and it pretty much looks like a flower pot. But the reason it looks like a flower pot is that even though my hands were in direct contact with the clay while it was on the wheel, John the pottery guy was really in the driver's seat. His hands were on my hands as he tried to help me turn the lump of clay into something other than a lump of clay.

I thought of this whole foray into the world of pottery this morning as I read today's first reading from Jeremiah:

I went down to the potter's house and there he was,
working at the wheel.
Whenever the object of clay which he was making
turned out badly in his hand,
he tried again,
making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.

I have a whole new appreciation for what is being said here. For one thing, this is one good potter, being able to "make of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased"! One thing I forgot to mention is that as I was making organic lumps of clay through great effort, my friend Nicole was fashioning beautiful pieces out of her lumps of clay. Beautiful, functional, and begging you to use them. So I know that it is possible ... just not easy. It takes something more, an artistic heart and vision, faith and trust, hope ... kind of like life.

So, when I read these words ...

Then the word of the LORD came to me:
Can I not do to you, house of Israel,
as this potter has done? says the LORD.
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

I think more of potters like Nicole and another friend CoCo who fashion beautiful and useful things out of their lumps of clay, rather than organic potters like myself. I also think of people like John the pottery guy who help people like me craft beautiful and useful things out of lumps of clay with support, guidance and much effort. If God the creator is like the potter, maybe the Holy Spirit is like the instructor. And Jesus, being fully human as well as fully divine, must know what it's like to work with (or sometimes feel like) a lump of clay.

Those are my random thoughts about the Scripture this morning. What are yours?

1 comment:

Sister Juliet said...

Hi Susan! I linked your blog to my post on the potter...so I thought I would link mine to you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts... mine are here: The Potter and the Lump of Clay.

Blessings to you!