Posé: A pause or rest stop along the Voyageurs' portage trail. Usually about ½ mile apart. We invite you to take a pause in your day to reflect, ponder, and pray with us.
This summer I spent a week at Camp Vermilion teaching pottery as one of the offered Journeys for campers. As I prepared for the week, I thought about how I could wholeheartedly share my passion for this craft. I worried about how to create a meaningful experience that would inspire children to learn. While planning, I discovered that clay and pottery are brought up in the bible 34 times, most profoundly in our creation story: Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7)
It is here we learn that it was from the soil that we were first made, the earth itself our oldest ancestor. "For even at its beginning the humble clay received God's art." - St. Irenaeus
As adults, we often think of learning in terms of intellect, but forget knowledge acquired through engaging in activities that nurture our creative imagination. As a child, I had learned how to be a servant in God's kingdom by planting a garden with my mom. Patience was taught on a fishing boat, and gratitude for the meal that followed, from weekends on the lake with my dad. When I brought out the wheel and muddied my hands to throw my first pot, campers immediately wanted to engage in the process. While I had never found the perfect words or lessons to convey what pottery stirs up in my heart, the clay itself became the teacher. These campers, and their curiosity and eager spirits, reminded me that wisdom often comes from simply participating in the work.
That physical act of work is mirrored in the verse from Genesis. Here God is not some far away being directing our creation. Instead God is the sculptor, active and up close, partaking in the creative process.
Working with clay connects us to a practice that dates as far back as 20,000 BC. As a vessel is formed from a lump of mud, it brings us into mindfulness that everything (from the food we eat, to the bowl that holds it) is of the earth. As Robin Kimmerer writes, "It's not just land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land." For me, pottery helps restore our relationship to God's creation. It reminds us of our kinship to the earth, and the abundance of God's gifts that flow from it.
VLM Alumni 09, 10