“Centering, writes Mary Caroline Richards, is the act that ‘precedes all others on the potter’s wheel. The bringing of the clay into a spinning, unwobbling pivot, which will then be free to take innumerable shapes as potter and clay press against each other. The firm, tender, sensitive pressure which yields as much as it asserts’.”
Lauren F. Winner, Creative Nonfiction Editor for Image Journal made these observations from reading Mary Caroline Richards’s Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person:
“None of this [reading] is quite the same as taking a class and sitting at the wheel. But it’s nonetheless helpful as I look at the various clay jars and jugs wedged onto my bookcases. And it’s been helpful as I consider the biblical trope of God as potter in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Romans: God is a potter, and the people God has elected for peculiar intimacy are God’s clay, being shaped by God into pots. Most of what I’ve read about that biblical trope treats it straightforwardly as a picture of one-directional sovereignty and control: to be the right kind of pot, we need to yield to God’s plan. Perhaps. But that is not quite how it seems to me after listening to actual potters. Their process entails potter and clay pressing against each other; the pressure of the potter’s hand yields as much as it asserts.”
If centering is the act that precedes all others on the potter’s wheel, then no matter how I press against the potter’s hands, I confess that I did not put myself there – I was placed with care at the centre, and there:
I want to enter into this peculiar intimacy of being shaped by the One who made me for Himself;
I want to find that unwobbling pivot wherein I discover the shape unique to me and not hidden from God;
I want to begin where all pottery begins: at the centre of God’s intentions.
A new, wonderful perspective on familiar biblical images.
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I am grateful to Mary Caroline Richard’s practical insights on the action of pottery. Thanks for your comments.