“So now what?”, said Clay to the potter. A fair question. After all, Clay didn’t ask to be thrown on the potter’s wheel. Minding his own since the creation of time, the situation, now, is quite different.
Clay was only recently unearthed and his question was warranted. Very justified, to be sure. He was taken from his millennial friends whom he met as they passed by in the cold stream nearby. A place called home where small shiny fish swam in the riffle pockets swirling around glossy green pebbles. Familiar and predictable. Nature’s pathway to eternal growth, for Clay, seemed no more.
Finding his way back would be futile. There really was no return. The potter determined Clay’s fate with the first thrust of a generational, rusty shovel. Into the bucket he fell .. and unknown future.
The future needed to survive came from his tears – which were beginning to run dry after hours inside this pale yellow tin prison. Cracks never known before began to appear on his face as an original deep, rich hue changed to a pale, inanimate tan. As each moment passed, life affirming oxygen swirled still … stale, dormant inside. Darkness cut off the sunlight. With each sway – as he was carried away from his familiar – came less hope of ever being his familiar self again. Despair. Alone in a circular world of alien metal and foreign feelings.
A short distance away was the potter’s home. Extending from the porch a worn path of stones placed years ago by a loving great-grandfather. For this house was generationally bound to the present with each and every new step taken by his heirs. The dirty prints atop each stone remained as gifts paid forward to the next one blessed to have walked in his footsteps.
At the far end of the simple ranch house, a small wooden, simply-framed building stood in contrast to the house itself. Unconnected, it stood with four walls reaching up to form a slightly leaning roof front-to-back and also inside-to-upside. From age, not design, the roof leaned in a peculiar way. In one corner, rain water collected. Surely not the original intent … for there was no apparent way for the water to drain. Repairs seemed necessary, but not a priority. Whatever the cause, intent, or resolution, from inside a rusty old bucket, none of this mattered.
There was no revelation for Clay. No way of knowing. Cut off from what he knew, currently in a dark scary space, unaware of the future he could not see … fate dealt a massive blow.
Then the swaying stopped.
What was to be? An end finally here? Motionless alarm.
At last in the distance a trickle. At first he wasn’t sure, but as it continued, he knew the sound. Suddenly, it was music so familiar a joy .. and then an immediate hope infused with water saturated his soul. The moment became momentarily possible as the still rusty bucket started to fill around him with precious familiar water. Life could continue with a renewed, but hesitant outlook.
Clay began to consider his recent nemesis a friend. Cracks healing, color returning, the bucket not naturally familiar, however, there was life ahead so everything was ok for now. And with that, he sat. Waiting. Pondering what to say. By this time, the potter retired for the evening back into his house, turning the single light off in this tilted, damp extra building where a bucket sat to collect rainwater leaking from the roof.
The traditional, predictable question, “why?” didn’t fit. Any answer to that wasn’t going to change Clay’s current state. He knew where he came from and where he was at present.. The future was unclear…until.
The potter’s warm hands reached in to embrace Clay the following morning as the sun dried the dew off the stones in the pathway. He gently placed Clay on the spinning wheel sitting in the dry corner opposite where the rain bucket sat almost full from the evening storm. With a trust formerly unfamiliar to him -especially never speaking to the potter – Clay, with humility and grace, spoke, “So now what? I am scared. I am alone. Please, please. What is your purpose with me?”
From the potter came a most unexpected reply,
“I have searched for perfection. Meticulously scanning the earth for years, I did not find it until yesterday. This craft of pottery was entrusted to me from my forefathers. The honor of continuing at their behest requires perfection – not in the final form, but in the basic, foundation materials. Such material has to be pure, aged, wise, loving, nurturing – all of the qualities I am blessed to finally find in you. You are perfection from the start. I am truly honored to work with you”
Silence. Then tears. Then friendship. Then love. That day a potter began a masterpiece never to be shown in a gallery.
Clay now sits on the potter’s book stand next to a rocking chair – the same wicker chair passed down from a great-grandfather. The same chair with worn side rails from a grateful great grandson’s arms resting on them every night.
The most beautiful of vases sits quietly, and majestically, next to a worn, aged, man who years ago carried a long since rusted out bucket back from a stream. The stream has since dried out. The fish are gone. The pebbles are still sitting there in the dust.
As Clay sits quietly, his friends are gone. Forever.
He is alive and more beautiful than ever thanks to his wonderful friend, the potter, who sleeps silently next to him with a partially open book over his chest. Silently he rests to arise tomorrow, possibly walking out the front door to make new footprints on the stone pathway into the future…