Wednesday, February 17, 2010

fire from these ashes

This is my first pot. 1982 in Vermont at prep-school. I walked down into the basement of the library where I found a pottery studio with two rickety wheels. It was Saturday and I sat on one while a friend was on the other. He was throwing a pot and so I took some clay and did one too. It is not very pretty but I still have it after all these years. I even kept it when I went to the monastery.

Now, almost 30 years later I am a master potter.

We can never know how much we will grow but we must continue to do so. God is cultivating us - each and every one of us. God is encouraging and loving and cajoling us into being set free from the prisons into which we have locked ourselves in the hopes that freedom is a more attractive option for us.

This week, as I head into Ash Wednesday today I am aware of that freedom in a new and very powerful way. I am aware that the prisons of my life are becoming fewer and fewer with each passing year of healing and spiritual and emotional growth. As my body ages and I grieve the losses of life, I also celebrate the freedoms of life.

What I have noticed on this farm is that it is out of decomposing life that new life grows. Some things have to die in order for other better, stronger things to take root and live.

What I noticed these last couple of days is that the things I think die in my life are just fantasies which need to die so that truth can live. There is still mourning and sadness at the loss of hopes, but I find, more often than not that the death of things which need to die in my life give me energy and hope and joy and a lightness-of-being which makes me feel like my feet are off the ground and that perhaps I can fly one day!

The pain of "becoming" is completely overwhelmed by the joy of becoming. I will always cherish that little Vermont bowl which I keep in a glass case in my pottery studio on a small mahogany stand. It is there to remind me that all the cuts and all the burns and all the broken pots and all the failed museum openings in my life as a potter have contributed to the beauty of my pots today and the ease and speed with which I make them.

Living and speaking truth will be hard and may come at a high cost and may lead to places unintended, but the freedom of truth is, I think, this "life abundant" of which our scriptures talk. What a wonderful, wonderful Ash Wednesday. Let the old things burn and burn and burn. And from these ashes let new life-abundant come!

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