Normandy is a ceramic artist and she shares her love and insight found in working with clay. She delights in the spiritual discipline of committing to the task in her hands. She offers some photos as proof.
Clay is such a responsive material. Each choice and touch is in some way evident in the finished vessel, from its infancy as a mound of wet clay in my hand, to the finished vessel: glazed, fired, and functioning in the world. The process of making ceramic vessels by hand is rich in metaphors for ourselves and spiritual lives. Even the words potters use to describe a pot relates to our bodies: lip, foot, handle. The vessels of our lives are filled with our desires, relationships, and beliefs as surely as the mug in my hand is filled with coffee. With all things, form follows function.
I have come to see that the discipline required of a studio practice has much in common with the tenacity, humility, and gratitude required for a spiritual practice. The word “practice” is what ties the two together in my mind. Practice is the action of doing something, executing, and often in a habitual way. Through hours of forming pots in the studio over the past ten years, I feel as though I am just beginning to make the kind of pots I want to be making. The small achievements I’ve had have been a partnership between me and the Lord. The products of these efforts often disappear from my awareness into other people’s homes to be used and loved, broken and discarded – I will never know.
My spiritual life feels most fulfilling when I bring to it a similar sense of habitual active doing. Each day is an opportunity to take my hands to the wet clay and form words and deeds of compassion, make amends, and offer love and forgiveness. With attention to function and continual direction to the Lord’s Word, these spiritual forms will further refine and serve their purpose. In this practice we form ourselves.