My friend Sister Susan has some great thoughts on lumps of clay over at her blog!
My reaction to the morning's reading was a little different from Susan's. I've never taken a pottery class, though I think it would be fun--even if it is hard to make anything less earthy than a lump of clay!
I went down to the potter's house and there he was,
working at the wheel.
Whenever the object of clay which he was making
turned out badly in his hand,
he tried again,
making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.
"He tried again." My life over the past few years has been so full of changes, both external and internal. I'm not a big fan of change, but I am very aware that the only way we become better people is by changing. That God tries again calls me to patience with myself and with the changing world that is within and around me.
God has a particular purpose for each of us, but we sometimes live without attending to that purpose. And so we are formed and reformed, allowed to grow in our unique and freely chosen ways. If we actively seek to follow God, we must sometimes go back to our lumpy, earthy beginnings and try to find that right path anew. The only way that I can become more the woman God wants me to be is through changing, through trying again.
The image has its limits: I don't think most of us every "turn out badly" and need to start completely from scratch. Yet, it shows that God is persistent, working in and through our mistakes and foibles to create the human person God desires.
There's another reading of the text that I've been thinking about as well. In just about a month, I become a novice in the Society of the Sacred Heart. I've been living the life for a year now, and the noviceship is the next step. One of my wisdom figures said to me that being a novice is about discernment, asking the question "What am I supposed to do with my life?" When I read about the potter forming and reforming the clay, it reminds me that this question, which I've obviously asked and answered several times already in my 31 years, is the question that I will be asking myself again and again for decades to come. No doubt as a novice this is a very serious thing. It's not just about what I want to do with my life, but what God wants me to do, and how willing I am to make a life-long commitment to this life.
I'm glad I don't have to think too hard about that for at least another month!