This was one of the Scripture readings for Thursday, July 30. When I was at Mass that day, as the celebrant gave his homily, he talked about the potter in Jeremiah; as he did so, he used his own hands as if working at a potter’s wheel.
It is a rather meditative experience to observe a potter working with clay. A lump of clay is placed on the wheel. If you simply turn the wheel, the lump spins in place, but it will remain as it is: a piece of earth, just a lump of clay.
But when the wheel spins and the potter puts his hands on the clay, before our very eyes, that clay glistens, spinning and moving and shaping in ways that didn’t seem possible before. With the potter’s gentle, almost imperceptible pressure of the hands, or a movement of the fingers, that lump of clay transforms into a vase; a mug; a platter; a pitcher — an item both useful and beautiful, that can help sustain a family and adorn a home.
Time and time again, the potter places a formless lump of clay on the wheel. It might become a vase or a platter — either is possible, but only the potter’s hands will make it happen.
At Mass that day in July, I thought of all this while the celebrant gave his homily. A thought and image flashed in my mind: God’s hands are around the whole earth, continuing to shape it. When God wishes to change it or improve it, a different shape is created. Our earth — in fact, all of creation — is in the hands of God, who shapes it for the better.
Maybe during this pandemic, God is shaping our earth into something new. Perhaps each of us is being called to be co-creators with God, to put our loving hands around the earth and help to refashion our world. Maybe we can learn what truly matters in life; that all life is precious. Can we diffuse hardships of whatever kind by mediating divine compassion in our world, through simple gestures of kindness? Are we being urged to no longer live in emotional chaos and spiritual confusion, but rather to focus on a feast of sharing; that is, sharing the feast of God’s gracious love?
Will this pandemic wrap itself up, dissipate, and make space for something new? Do I have faith and the strength of character needed to sit at the potter’s wheel, co-create with God, and help shape a better world? Do I trust in the love of God that is making something new?
Story by Sister Martha Bertke; Pat Morrison photo