20 September 2007

Harried Potter and the Quest for the Perfect Bowl

A few months ago, I sat down for the first time at a pottery wheel. Ever since I saw "Titanic," I've wanted to try my hand at pottery (only true fans will catch that reference since pottery only shows up for about 0.003 seconds in the entire film, but it stuck with me...clearly). And so, when I finally got the chance to try, I was excited. "It's not as easy as it looks" I was warned, but I was deaf to tones of caution. In my mind, I was a true Renaissance woman--stealing a few hours away from chores to try my hand at an art form that was difficult to everyone else, but at which I would become a prodigy. I would come, I would see, I would conquer that clay! Crowds would marvel at my genious. The Vatican would request special projects. It would be amazing!
(I'm not as vain as I sound, I promise)

I like to think that for my size I pack a bit of a punch, so when I sat down at the potter's wheel, I felt ready. The clay hit the middle of the wheel with a perfect "splat!" I took my position, cradling the cool mud in my hands, foot at the ready to press the speed pedal. It began to turn. I applied pressure, and then......disaster. This clay was more than I could take. It was the most difficult medium I have ever worked with. When I wanted it to go up, it went down. When I wanted it to get thicker, it got thinner. It was, to say the least, stubborn. And coarse. I'm always up for a little exfoliation, but this was downright absurd. Here's what ended up happening:

Yes my friends, that clay was so stubborn that my then-boyfriend had to intervene. He was the Patrick Swayze to my Demi Moore in "Ghost," sitting behind me to lend a helping hand. I'd like to be able to say that we worked together and make the world's most beautiful vase. I'd like to be able to say that what came from it was a bonafide work of art. That, however, would be a lie. What came from it was a very pathetic looking lump of something that slightly resembled a bowl. I stood defeated. A Renaissance woman I was not.

Being the massive geek that I am, I had a song about clay stuck in my head this entire time. It's sung by a CCM band named LaRue and it says: "Like clay in the potter's hands/ Mold me, mold me...For whatever it takes and whatever the fate/ I'll trust You/ For whatever the cost and whatever is lost/ I'll love You, O Lord"

I don't know if whoever wrote this song ever actually tried pottery, but I like the image. I've heard the analogy of God shaping us like clay before, but I can understand it so much better now. That clay did not want to budge. It was perfectly happy being in a lumpy little buldge, thank you very much, and it did not want to be formed into something more beautiful. That sentiment hits a little too close to home. I'm perfectly happy the way I am, thank you very much, and I'd rather not change into something that's more beautiful to God---especially if that means a sacrifice or some sort of pain. I'm coarse and difficult and resistent, and while I'm sure that God doesn't need anyone to sit behind Him to add some weight to His hands, I'm sure He gets frustrated sometimes. I'm sure I end up looking like a pathetic excuse for a bowl.

So maybe this week I'll try to be a little more open to being formed. Maybe if I talk to the clay it'll agree, too....


Anonymous said...

the hands only guide in the shaping of the clay...just as God guides in the shaping of our lives.

Anonymous said...

you may (think you are) "coarse and difficult and resistent", and perhaps that bowl may have been in your eyes "a pathetic looking lump of something", but in someone else's eyes and of course in God's eyes, both you and it are nothing but strong, determined and resilient and something quite beautiful.