Friday, September 16, 2016

Isaiah 64 – And a Daughter's Hands

These days leading up to our departure from the States have been a real blessing.  And one of the greatest of these gifts: the chance to have intentional time with family and friends.  Each day is precious, and has lent itself to a great set of memories.

Here's what took place a few evenings ago:  My daughter Jessica took me to a local pottery studio where she's set up shop.  Jess has devoted herself, over the past several years, to becoming a skilled potter.  Her house is filled with vases, cups, dishes and bowls, all made by her own hand.

So after dinner the other night, she dropped a great question: "Dad, wanna throw some clay?"  Vaguely understanding the invitation, I went ahead and said yes.

I'd never been at a potter's wheel before.  I've frequented craft fairs and admired the artisans who've shown off their finished products, but the opportunity to get down and dirty (literally) with a lump of clay is an experience that's never been afforded me.

The first thing to note about manipulating a hunk of clay is just how intensive and complex a labor it is.  As I smashed down my clay on the potter's wheel, Jessica urged me on:  "Dad, the clay is your domain.  You own that domain.  Don't let the stuff push you around.  Use your palms, your fingers, and insist on centering it and fashioning it the way you want, not the way the clay wants to go."

Simple, right?  But hardly.  I found working with this stubborn earth to be a delicate dance of upper body strength, focus, balance, and artful movement of palms, fingers, and wrists.  It was not an easy task in the least.

As I was working with my daughter's encouragement and practical guidance, I found myself going back to a Scripture passage that I've heard through the years – the quote from Isaiah 64:
  "Yet you, Lord, are our father.
  We are the clay and you our potter;
  We are all the work of your hand."  Is. 64: 7

There is nothing like entering fully into an analogy to find all the nuances of its meaning.  I'll never be a potter, at least one to match my daughter's skill.  But I'll also never forget what it means, how it feels, or what it takes out of you to craft a lump of earth into a bowl for my porridge.

This brief human experience makes me marvel all the more at how the potter's image works for God the Creator – how much it takes to craft a human being, to be fashioned according to the Creator's image, to be the result of God's hands and palms and wrists.  Am I receptive to the divine movement of focus and balance, the strength to keep things in alignment so that an inimitable work of life might be achieved?  I contemplated how often we resist the touch of the Potter's hand – just like that stubborn lump of clay – content to be spinning around, off-centre. And just like the clay, we are not complete until we subject ourselves to the creative and parental set of divine hands.

And in equal measure, when I'm with my grandchildren, it makes me appreciate all the more what it takes out of parents to mould their children as well.  Days spent raising children, while not a potter's wheel per se, bears a striking analogy to what takes place with lumps of clay.  And come sundown, the exhaustion that follows their efforts to is very plain to see.  Parents, like the Creator, spend a lot of time at that would-be potter's wheel, creating what is to come.

Finally, a shameless plug:  Looking for some great pottery?  Think of my daughter, and check out her work by clicking here!

No comments:

Post a Comment