Sunday, April 25, 2010
One of the items I make for the Canterbury Shaker Village is the great old-fashioned teapot. People who browse the Museum Store at the Shaker Village are not just looking for merchandise. Most of what can be found there can be found elsewhere. What people are looking for is a souvenir. And by that, I mean the French, etymological sense of the word. The direct translation is "up -come" which is to say that to buy or have a souvenir is to draw up from the memory an event so that it comes into the present.
In religious circles, the theological word for this is anamnesis - the drawing of a memory or past event into the present. "Do this in remembrance of me..." in which an act that happened ages ago is drawn into the present like a thread being drawn through a tapestry to add to its color and depth. In church, when we say the Eucharist, we are experiencing anamnesis and we have a souvenir in the bread and the wine. Something that happened in the past which is re-happening in the present.
By buying one of my teapots, people are seeking, in many cases, an icon to a simple lifestyle they saw in the Canterbury Shaker Village and in the remembering of the lifestyles of the Shakers. To make a cup of tea is to slow down. To sit with tea and be present to it is an important religious act in many cultures around the world both at meals and in religious ceremony.
Each teapot that comes off the wheel (I made 8 yesterday!) is set on the shelf to dry with a simple prayer asking God to breathe peace into the lives of those who drink their tea from this pot.