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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.




Estate sales are treasure-troves for lovers of old things with an eye to their restoration. No matter the accumulation of decades of grime, the scraped chair leg, the missing drawers of a chest, the discolored table with initials carved on the top.

Whether bought at Goodwill or Edwin Pepper Interiors, these pieces reflect their previous owners’ utilitarian and esthetic tastes, as well as their sense of what had constituted home.

Some of advanced ages also have their cherished pieces restored and refinished as a legacy for others to enjoy in their homes.

One such business that accommodates such needs is Zollinger’s, located in South St. Louis. Originally founded by H. R. Zollinger, a dentist, in September 1893, the Junker family took it over in 1933 and continues under the ownership of their son, Tom. Under its modest roof, rooms of skilled woodworkers and other artists repair wobbly joints and missing parts of furniture, hand sand, buff, apply primers before applying at least five coats of lacquer. The results warm the heart: new furniture emerges with lustrous hearts of cherry, oak, pine, walnut, elm, and sycamore.

The craftsmen’s touch, their love for distressed wood, once thriving in forests, their honoring the work of other woodworkers from all times and parts of the world – all of this gives me pause. Perhaps another way of understanding the line from the book of Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I make all things new.”

These skillful hands at work in Zollinger’s are restoring my dining room chair. I am more than grateful.


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