Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Daily Brew (06.0125)

Wednesday's Brew*

Reflections from the Wheel
by beth (from And Then I Woke Up )

I recently started taking pottery classes. I've had an interest, off and on, in pottery for a number of years - probably tracking back to when I found my mom's old wheel (a little tabletop one) and bags of dried out clay in the back of her craft closet. The interest has ebbed and flowed for many years, until finally I decided to just jump in and give it a shot.

My first class was an eye opener. I thought it was a fairly simple matter of guiding the clay gently into a shape - but basically letting the clay do what came naturally. Boy was I wrong. Throwing a pot requires you to be actively involved with the clay throughout every phase of its formation. It's not a simple, relaxed or haphazard "guidance" that shapes the clay - it takes muscle, and concentration, and effort. The clay is caught in the forces of the spinning wheel. If you leave it alone, it will (if you're lucky) sit there like a spinning lump. If you're unlucky, it will fly across the room. It's skill and dilligence that keeps this from happening.

Then you have to find the right balance between wet and dry that allows the sides of the vessel to be formed and end up strong enough to stand, yet still be thin enough that your end result doesn't weigh a ton from excess clay. You have to learn to tell by feel if you can get a little more height or width or if any more shaping will create an irreperable hole. And the clay has no idea about how to turn into the picture you have in your head - you're responsible for every movement that takes that clay from ball to bowl.

A little mistake during any of those steps can compromise the integrity of the end product. Too wet and the sides collapse. Too dry and they don't stretch to their full potential. Too little pressure and it gets off center and becomes wobbly. Too much and you create waste - and your pot can't be as large as it should have been. You have to know when to keep shaping and when to gently let go and see how the form is taking shape. And while a pot's on the wheel, you don't walk away.

I've many times heard pastors or Sunday school teachers talk about Isaiah 45:9 and go into detail about the properties of clay and how we are to be the clay in God's hands. It's a fairly common, and good, analogy. What I've not heard, and what I think maybe more people need to consider is that it's hard to be the Potter. Only an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-merciful God is qualified to sit at the wheel and mold us.

If you look at the majority of our culture, you see people who live their lives as if there is no God. Or, if there is one, He either started things rolling and then stepped back to let things mosy on at will, or is too busy with other things to be involved in our lives. But that's not what we're told. Whether we see it or not - whether we choose to recognize it or not - God is actively involved in our lives. We're told He is the Potter. And you can't be a "hands off" potter.

(* Note: The Daily Brew attempts to engage ideas and address contemporary themes with truthful and relevant principles for the purpose of positively impacting our culture. Thank you for reading.)

Shaping the 'sphere at TWC, ACLU, Diane, SoS, Don


  1. I watched a pottery demonstration once and was amazed at how difficult it was. There is a lot of skill and patience involved.

    Patience is a good thing for a Creator, don't you think?

  2. Good call. More patient than I can imagine. Appreciate the comment. Drop by any time. lgp

  3. Beth, I would love to hear some of those Isaiah 45 comments about the things we're supposed to have in common with clay. Besides "Be Pliable", nothing is coming to mind. What else /are/ those pastors teaching you about clay?


Keep it clean and positive. (And sorry about the word verification, but the spmb*ts are out in full force!)