Five years today.
I acquired a potter’s wheel this week. It has been something I have desired since I left the woods. To sit and feel the clay again in my hands and to pour my spirit into making a vessel.
A cup, a bowl, a small vase. Beautiful items that will hold various treasures.
I have felt this day approaching in the back of my mind. I have felt it creep up in my soul.
It was Sunday when he left us. This year, the day also lands on a Sunday.
Every year I carry this burden as the calendar date approaches.
I hold my breath just a little. I make space for myself and for our children.
We circle up and we remember to breathe.
We inhale God’s continued presence.
The exhales come with raspy voices and salty tears.
This is the day that marks the anniversary of loss.
Loss envelopes me and I drink again from cup of sorrow.
Our youngest was five when he left. Today marks as many years gone as he was present with this child.
It is hard to swallow, to inhale and exhale, but we do.
We do it together.
Grief has molded me.
It has marked me as a mother, a pastor, and a friend. I try not to linger there too often, but I have learned to let myself linger enough.
I do not ask for it to be erased.
Instead, I ask the Potter to form and shape it, to transform it into a vessel filled with love and grace.
I have done a lot of reflection and healing while working with the clay.
I have thought about the way in which the circumstances of our lives mold us. How they can make us bitter and angry, or how we can choose to allow them to form us into something new.
I won’t pretend. Sometimes I am bitter. Sometimes I am angry.
But, I have come to recognize that those things mark you as well and they are not as easily trimmed away.
Sometimes they are necessary.
In working with clay, any small movement of my hand manipulates the outcome,it can become a beautiful vessel, or a horrible mess in seconds.
I first began to throw on a wheel two weeks after he died. The items I created in those first weeks were rough, heavy and lopsided. But as time progressed the vessels became more balanced.
I learned to trim the excess lumps of mud, which in turn caused something more delicate and beautiful to emerge.
I know that I am far from being a beautiful vessel, but I gather strength from knowing that God is continuing to work on me, molding me to become a better person, a better mother, and a better pastor.
It has been some time since I have worked with the mud.
I have moved, become an ordained pastor, the children are now teens and the dog we got right before he died is no longer a puppy.
We have been through a mass shooting, bomb threats, fires, earthquakes, illness, and now, isolated in a pandemic.
I wonder how many lopsided vessels will come out of this. How long it will be before they are beautiful vessels again?
There is beauty in the lopsidedness.
Today I will hold the clay in my hands.
I will listen to the whispering of the Spirit as it begins to take shape.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-9