By Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH
When I first began to work with clay, the instructor explained that we do not control the clay but we unite with it. The clay will teach us how to shape it.
Well, in my pottery experience I have had many conversations with clay. Sometimes we get along very well and other times the piece is off center, misshapen and destined for the recycle bucket. Not very satisfying. What did I have to learn?
In clay work as in life, there is a journey and a process and each stage is important and serves its purpose in getting to the desired end. I tend to be impatient and want to get the job done and see immediate results. But it is not like that with clay or in our life experience. I learned this the hard way. Clay too moist collapses; pieces not dried out explode in the kiln; improper glazing results in bubbling and crawling; and an interrupted cooling process causes (of all things) cracked pots!
Working with clay teaches many lessons, and I had to learn them all as I followed the process from kneading, throwing, drying, firing, glazing—each with its own discipline and all calling for patience, humility, perseverance, as well as a spirit of creativity and imagination.
There will always be days for the recycle bucket, but for me, as I learn to respect the journey and the process, I find working with clay my way of keeping centered and focused.
There is harmony between me and the clay; there is accommodation to my life and the stresses that come. But more than that is the excitement and sense that God is working with me in my own creation story. I take the clay of the earth and knead it and shape it to say what God wants me to say. God is at work! God is at play! Clay is fun! Clay is sacred!