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Only the whir of the potter wheel licked the stained walls of the studio as an apron-clad artist cupped a mound of clay slip with wet hands. Next to the wheel laid scalpel-like knives, sponges of various sizes and textures, wires strung to handles, other cutters, twigs, and leaves. But the potter’s sensitive hands, sinewy and dripping wet, caught my attention: She seemed to know when to pause, slow the wheel, add more clay, etch designs upon the lip, indent patterns, and so much more. With others, I looked on, hushed by the emerging bowl taking shape on the wheel.

 After the potter slip-wired the bowl from the wheel and set it aside to dry, she focused upon her students and smiled. “You can do this too. It just takes practice—That’s why I’m here.”

Then, as well as now, this experience mirrors Potter God’s ongoing intimacy in bringing forth new life, within limits of time and space. Like the hollow in the earthenware bowl, my body of eighty-four years has held a treasure—no matter chronic pain’s tenuous hold on my life. Light always emerged and I did find my way, albeit with new direction and resolve.

 However, my ILD with Rheumatoid Arthritis is unique: There’s no getting better, only imperceptible decline and with it, moments of terror until countered by CPA’s Step I and those following. In some future moment, Potter God will slip-wire my body from the wheel of life and set me free from my present diminishments. Until then, I wait and pray… and ask you to do the same. I’m grateful.

 

 

 

It is bone silent, mysterious. Outside my opened window, night’s residue meanders among the branches of the fresh-leaved redbud tree.

A solitary chirp nudges the stillness like a symphony conductor tapping his baton upon the music stand seeking the performers’ attention. It is beginning. Like the first morning of creation, more chirps swell the darkness, intermingled with a piercing trill; then warbles; then whistles; then pipes; then chucks; then full-throated songs color the tracings of light in the sky. The chorus becomes unbearable until it subsides into isolated sighs. Then, stillness returns like a brooding mother.

Unfortunately, our calloused culture has lost the spiritual sense of birds, reflected in centuries-old myths, legends, and folklore of numerous cultures. For example, indigenous peoples living along the Pacific Northwest Coast revered the Raven as bearer of light to humans, lost in impenetrable darkness. Closer to our time, the Brothers Grimm’s discovery of two folk tales, “The Raven,” and “The Seven Ravens,” nuance the storytellers’ imaginative handling of this image as it evolved through time.

In other parts of the world, birds possessed supernatural powers as co-creators and messengers of the gods.

A deeper study of the seasonal presence of birds in our backyards, especially at dawn, suggests a Divine order at work, now as well as in past epochs. Their display of color-sounds still occurs each morning. We have only to be still and listen and  swell with hope.

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