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We are the clay and You are our potter, and we are all the work of your hands.

This image is found in the great psalm, included in Chapter 64:8 of the prophet Isaiah by the unnamed writer from his school; it dates back to the end of Jewish Exile, 537 BCE.

Yet, this image’s roots are much older: from the Yahwistic writer of Genesis 2-7, drawn from 4,000 BCE—Indeed, the dynamic in the Jewish psyche which nonetheless speaks if we listen and obey.  

Such hands still form, rework, and reclaim life as we experience it each moment in the actualization of our birthrights: To pierce setbacks elicits new courage, to unravel wisdom’s intricacies enlarges understanding, and to rejoice in intimacy deepens hope in this invisible Touch that keeps us whole.

To maintain such moistness so as to be malleable, though, requires attentive and gentle discipline. Only with heart-mind-openness to His Touch can this occur.

And how badly this openness is needed in Ukraine’s “special military operation,” now in its third week: Its woundedness dries and cracks apart spirits like broken sherds—both the aggressor and their prey. Terror seeps into psychic pores and hardens spiritual functions. Would that these hostilities lead to global purification.

Only intact clay pots can hold the message of the Potter’s unconditional love and share it with others, a reality consonant with our ancient creation story, found in the book of Genesis.

Yes, as the rain and the snow come from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the Word that goes from my mouth does not return empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in which it was sent to do.

So proclaims Isaiah 55:10

The eve before the birth of Jesus, we remember his very pregnant mother, Mary. Few scriptural accounts tell her story. Yet, thanks to the rich imaginations of the first followers of her son, stories of her abound.

James, some say the half-brother of Jesus, collected these accounts circulating about Mary and published them in The Protoevangelium of James (145 CE). One of these treats of Mary and Joseph’s arduous four-day journey to Bethlehem from Nazareth:

And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it; and his sons led it, and Joseph followed.

From that source, the fourteenth-century artist and monk Theodore Metachites replicated Mary and Joseph’s journey in late Byzantine mosaics, found in the inner narthex of the Church of the Holy Savior in Istanbul, Turkey. Ahead of them walk Joseph’s two sons from a previous marriage. Because robbers infested the roads, travelers joined caravans for safety.

Instead of a lowly donkey, however, the artist, has Mary astride a white horse, then, only owned by the wealthy or used by generals in warfare. The horse’s bridle and saddle blanket offer a human touch.

So, it’s ultimately about story, which ones you choose for inspiration, for inner enrichment, those with purpose and meaning.

The Infancy Narrative has always spoken to me.

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