Sunday, July 17, 2011


I have several plants in my office. I've had them for almost 4 years and I've watched them grow. Inevitably, plants outgrow the pots they're in and that means it's time to move'em. That time came for one of them this weekend, a nice little palm that was telling me that it needed something more than it had. Ok, I got the hint. I bought it a nice new pot and, in spite of 110° on the patio, I stood there and repotted it before bringing it back into the house to wait until we both go to the office tomorrow.

While potting this plant I found an outdoor one that was starting to look scraggy and had roots coming out of the bottom of the pot it was in, so I found another pot and bunged it in. It looks happier now too.

Oddly enough, this afternoon I was sort of dozing in front of the TV when the channel I had selected began talking about pots, the kind found on archaeological digs, and what they represented. Whether whole or in shards, pots tell stories, perhaps incomplete ones, but still there are stories there. Did they contain oil, or water, or wine? Did they contain dates or grain or raisins? Were they works of art with decorations on them or were they ordinary pots perhaps with nothing on them or perhaps just a scribble or a cartouche or some sort of mark. Just a squiggle on a pot shard can tell an archaeologist a lot about how that piece got where it was found. Did it come from a local potter or from far away? Was it part of someone's kitchen or some storekeeper's stock? What can it tell us about when it was made as well as where? What can it tell us about the world in which it existed?

The shards that they showed were mostly just plain pottery, pottery that could have been from any time in the last 4,000 years or so. Some of the shards, though, had markings that identified the time period (no, they didn't say "Made in China, 3582 BC, Lot #46283, QC #4182, Inspected by Yu Ling, Not for use in microwave or dishwasher"). Whatever had been in the pot before it was broken was no longer there; it was just a piece of broken pottery, yet it bore testimony to a long-ago time, a time that we can only imagine from the bits and pieces that are left behind as either grave-goods or simply trash. Just think of it, a piece of dry pottery speaking volumes from thousands of years ago. It's mind boggling.

In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. (2 Tim 2:20)

Archaeologists seldom find things from antiquity that were made of gold and silver. Let's face it, to poor people, something of gold or silver that they can dig out of the ground and sell is often a prize to be sought. It can make the difference between starving and feasting. Most of the gold and silver that had been left behind in graves and tombs has been looted, its context lost to the future and its story silenced. Pottery, though, had much less value although unbroken pots could still find a market for the looters. Broken pottery? It was worth nothing so it remained where it was, a silent testimony to what had been, when it had been, and waiting for someone with the wisdom and understanding to look and see the story it had to tell.

I got to thinking about pots and what kind of pot I would be. No, I'm not planning to be a bright, shiny, perfect pot like the one my little palm plant has moved into. That's not my style. A plain pot, perhaps; that's a bit more believable. A shard of a broken pot, that's the most likely. I've been broken and mended so many times that I'm not sure how much is original and how much is glue. There are squiggles and letters carved on the various pieces, some out of sequence, some with the markings worn off, some with no marks at all to identify that this reconstruction that now exists was actually where this piece belonged.

See, before God I am as you are; I too was formed from a piece of clay. - Job

If I think about it, everybody is a pot of some kind. Each has a context, a story and a message to leave to the world. There will be some gorgeous fired pottery with beautiful designs and colorful images, there will be some with lots of identifying text and there will be some plain and serviceable, more or less. It is God who makes the pots and God who disposes of them. I am as I am made, I am to serve in whatever capacity I find myself.

Woe to you who strive with your Maker, earthen vessels with the potter! Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, “What are you making”? or “Your work has no handles”? - Is. 45:9

Mine is not to question my fashioning, mine is simply to work within it, whether I am to hold a plant or a liter of water. Mine is simply to be the best pot I can be, because I am of God's fashioning and my Master's use.

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