The Potter’s House
One very cold and rainy fall day, my grandmother was doing something or other in her bedroom while I was sitting in the floor playing with spools of thread from her sewing machine. A little time later, she came out of her bedroom to where I was playing. She had a strand of cobweb in her hair which she worried with absent-mindedly. Her main focus was a very worn, dusty, black book that she carried in her hand. She blew off a layer of dust and then wiped the book on her pants to clear the rest of the grime away.
She sat down on the floor next to me and said, “I’ve been looking for this, because I wanted to show it to you.” She opened the cover of the book reverently. “It’s my father’s Bible.”
From my vantage point, I could see the tattered corners of each page as she turned them.
“He couldn’t read,” she said. It surprised me as her father had been a very well-respected farmer. I’d often heard stories about his skill at his farming business, so the idea that he couldn’t read was a bit baffling. “My sisters and I used to take turns every night reading passages to him. We were the ones that wore out the corners.” She looked up at me, but I could she wasn’t seeing me. For a moment, she’d gone back in time where a little girl read to her father. I imagine she was picturing his face. “He knew the Bible so well. All you had to do was tell him a chapter and verse. He could recite it word-for-word.” I was impressed. I imagine it would take a lot of times hearing something in order to be able to quote it to that degree.
She turned to a page and began to read:
Jeremiah 18:1-6 King James Version (KJV)
18 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
My grandmother smoothed the page. More to herself than to me, she said, “It’s the story of the Potter’s House.”
My small mind couldn’t fully grasp the concept, so she explained it to me. “See, this story isn’t really about a Potter. It’s an analogy. God is the Potter and we…” she pointed to each of us in turn and then continued “are the clay. It’s about how God molds each of us for a specific purpose.”
“You see,” she said, “God can only start with us as a blob of clay. Without Him, we really have no purpose. It isn’t until he begins to work us, put us on the wheel and mold us that we can become vessels, which are very useful indeed.” She looked at me for a beat and then said, “PJ, the Potter can also put you back together if you ever feel broken.” With that, she got up and left the room.
From time to time, my grandmother would “find” the Bible and more stories would come from it. Some were stories from the Bible and others were stories from our history. Mostly, they were both.
After she died, I saw the Bible once and asked my father if he’d let me have it. He wouldn’t. Later, after his death, I tried to find it. It saddens me that it is lost. But I do have special memories of it that belong to me and my grandmother. Those memories I dearly cherish.
I suppose because my grandmother spent those moments telling me about the Potter’s House, I’ve always been a little in awe of pottery and of potter’s. I’ve never had any inclination to it myself, but it’s never changed the fact that I appreciate pieces made by others.
This weekend, The Dane and I had a chance to go to a pottery. It was more than just a little cold as we arrived. Off to the side, a fire-barrel was burning. The wood smoke brought back fond memories of my time at my grandmother’s when cold days always included wood-burning fires.
As we approached the first tent, I reached down and touched one of the plates, caressing the wicker pattern of the clay and marveling at the time it must have taken the potter. Just like the wicker pattern, The Dane and I weaved in and around the works of art. Oohing and aahing at this piece or that until we’d worked ourselves around each exhibit and decided what we wanted to add to our collection.
Just as we finished our purchase, a man walked up to us and told us there was fresh cider around the front. The Dane and I walked over and shared a cup.
I haven’t had cider in a good little while, so when the first sip hit my lips, I took a deep breath which sent a tiny shiver through me. So, delicious!
As we spent a quit moment enjoy the cider, I thought back to the story of the Potter’s House and it occurred to me that there are so many lessons in it to learn. The spinning of the wheel could represent a life stage that working to help make the clay or it could mean a life that’s spinning and spinning and getting nowhere. The pottery has to be fired, which could mean going through trails and tribulations or being set into the thing that we are supposed to be. And then the vessel which can be of so many sorts – they were on display all around me. But mostly, I thought about my grandmother and wondered if she’d be proud of the vessel that I am becoming and for a brief sad moment, I wished that she was there with me.
For me, pottery will forever be linked to my grandmother and my great-grandfather. As The Dane and I discussed the piece we’d bought, I couldn’t help but think that pottery will always and forever link me to those that came before me…to my roots. And in every way, back to God, who continues to mold me.
Thanks for stopping by today and sharing a very sentimental moment.