This summer at Montreat, I sat in the pottery center with three simple things: a spinning wheel, a piece of clay, and a dream. My dream was to transform that formless lump into a coffee mug glazed in “Montreat Blue.”
Hypnotized by the steady spinning of the wheel, I soon imagined how amazing it would feel to cradle that mug in my hands on a cold morning, with the hot coffee warming my hands. I could see the mug so clearly in my vision. I could even see how the steam from my cup would rise like the mist that covers Montreat’s mountains on early summer mornings.
The vision was so clear. And so perfect. And so elusive.
So elusive, in fact, that it would never come true.
No word existed for how bad I was at throwing pots, so I coined one. I finally decided that in a real potter’s world, I am the muggle-equivalent. Apparently, I am a Mugbowl.
Now I had not sat down thinking that I would be instantly christened the “pottery wizard” of Montreat. But I also never imagined how inadequate the whole experience would make me feel.
That’s such a damning word. Inadequate.
And yet, it’s the word that greets me each morning lately. I seem to lack so many things these days. Maybe it’s just a fantasy that I ever had them, but so many things that I need for each day’s challenges seem lacking within me.
Where is the right word that someone longs to hear from me?
Where is the wisdom that being a parent requires?
Where is the power to let go?
Where is the ability to shape the hopes I can see so clearly in my heart?
So many things I lack. So many ways that life, like that clay, refuses to yield itself to my dreams.
But life keeps spinning. And we keep trying to make something of it with the stuff that remains.
That’s what happened that evening in Montreat. The clay kept turning and my inadequate hands gave uncertain and tentative shape to what was waiting to be born. No longer burdened by a dream of what I wanted to force into existence, I was alone with a steadily spinning wheel and a lump of clay.
And when I stopped expecting that clay to become something it was never going to be,
I saw the beauty that was hidden there just waiting to be discovered and treasured.
And once it passed through the kiln of grace, this thing I had not seen in my dreams began to bring me an unexpected joy.
Grace has a way of doing that. It keeps showing up to take hold of our hesitant efforts to create some glimpse of what we think life is meant to be about, and it teaches us to delight in what life actually is.