by the Rev. Ralen M. Robinson
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 cool clay forms within my hands, molding and contorting to the pressure of my fingers as it forms into a round ball. It is thrown onto a wheel with force and power so it can stick and be unmovable. Droplets of water cascade upon the sphere, soaking up the clay and creating a darker hue as it twirls around. The palms of my hands and fingers work through the clay, morphing the sphere into something spectacular. There is beauty in looking upon a chunk of clay void of form, seeing something, and then creating it.
This year, I wanted to try something new, step out of my comfort zone, and do something I could be better at. It is humbling stepping into a room and knowing that failure is an option and that you don’t necessarily possess those gifts needed for the task ahead. So, I stepped out of my comfortable box with established gifts and secure skillsets and sat down at a pottery wheel for the first time, and I sucked.
I had to look at a piece of white blob and be imaginative and see something beautiful in it. I had to look past its form and see its potential and possibility.
How often do we challenge ourselves to see potential in the impossible? Or to imagine something from nothing? That is what we are called to do this Lenten season. Lent is an uncomfortable time because we are called to look at ourselves in a shaky mirror and see our raw and bare selves. Lent is a time to be introspective and reflective, but we are also called to find God in the bleakness of the season. We are called to look upon the brokenness of humanity, the despair of death, and the messiness of the world and see the Lord. We need to look past the stuff that weighs us down and makes us weak and, still hold on to God and be guided by God’s light that illuminates our path. It’s so hard and challenging, and we fail at it.
Yet we walk through the 40 days with life’s stuff and people’s perils, and it shapes us like potter’s shape clay. Life trials and tribulations are embedded within us, and to be resilient and to withstand cracking and breaking, we must be held together with God’s love and strength. We must take time every year and see how God shapes us despite our flaws. God looks down upon us, and we still see beauty and possibility even when we can’t see it ourselves. We are considered masterpieces that incorporate our divots, scratches, and imperfections; still, we are beautifully imperfect and beloved children of God.
We are called to do the same, to find God in barren, desolate places, and in the cracks of society. Therefore, when we look in the mirror and see ourselves, we see the light of the Lord that shines around us. So, as you walk into the days of Lent, lean on the Lord and look for the One on high in the highest and lowest places, for there is beauty in the mundane and something in the nothingness.
Ralen M. Robinson is a pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kan. When she is not pastoring she is pursuing her Doctorate of Ministry in Homiletics, serves as a board member of Child Protective Services of Sedgwick County, and participates in leadership roles in the wider church. Ralen believes her faith and a good pair of shoes can take you a long way.