In the Potter’s Hands

By Sister Jeannine Marie, O.C.D.
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Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

The beautiful allegory skillfully portrayed by the prophet Jeremiah of the visit to the potter’s house has always reminded me of the season of Lent. Jeremiah is instructed by God to go “to the house of the potter.” The Hebrew word used means “shaper” and is related to one of the words to describe God’s shaping of Adam from dust in Genesis 2:7. We too, like Adam, have been shaped by God and are in need of re-shaping after sin. Is this not our hope this Lent? Are we perhaps in need of a tweak here and there?

So, Jeremiah goes to the potter to observe him working at his wheel. Jeremiah tells us, “The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him” (Jer. 8:4). The potter begins with simple clay. He places it on the wheel and gently molds it between his hands at each turn. The clay, as the prophet tells us, often spoils and needs to be reshaped and remolded into “another” vessel. But the potter is not deterred when the clay is spoiled. The process takes time and patience. So the Church has given us the marvelous season of Lent in order to once again reshape the vessel of our souls. “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” Jer. 18:6. We can once again place ourselves into the hands of the Divine Potter.

So this Lent, let us allow ourselves to be put on the Potter’s wheel for the next forty days. Let us gently condition ourselves into His loving hands and allow Him to press, and mold, and reshape us. This does not require the clay (us) to do extraordinary things during its time on the wheel. Its sole job is being malleable and receptive to the will of the Potter. Our days are filled with a plethora of opportunities to “go against” or “go beyond” our normal comfort zone. It can be as simple as to promise God that when I awake, I will take a moment to express my gratitude for another day and opportunity to praise Him. To embrace the normal events of my day with a spirit of joy, a simple smile, a quick “hello.”

So often, we begin Lent with the idea of performing extraordinary feats of virtue. St. Therese reminds us that, “Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.” It is really not what we do this Lent while turning on the Potter’s wheel but the love with which we allow Him to shape us. The clay is simply the material. It is Potter’s hands that create a miracle. We are given that chance this Lent once again. Climb on the wheel and oh what wonders will be ours!

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