Theology in the Trenches
By Kathleen Kjolhaug
The Potter Daughter
The road wound like a ribbon through the canopied trees. To the right of the trees were the village shops, and to the right of the shops was the lake. The storefront pavement pushed up to the edge of the shop doors calling to passers-by.
I had no particular place I had to be but where I was, and so I stopped. How I happened upon the sacred turn of events was lost to me, but grateful I was. The sign which caught my eye was whimsically placed above the door and it read, “The Potter Daughter.”
Like a mouse sticking its nose out its hole, I opened the door and poked my way in. Although I’d never before entered, one just knew this was holy ground. The cement floor slanted as if ramped for accessibility yet curved down into another portion of the shop. Two connecting rooms cradled the display of pottery before me.
A cash register sat poetic like upon a wooden counter while shelving stretched from one side of the shop to the other offering respite for the pottery pieces. A third space just behind the register was accessible and there was a stir of activity within.
“Come in” said the potter as I crossed the threshold between shop and workshop. “Duck your head, there are some stairs here that are a little precarious.” Where they led I do not know. I only know that once passing beneath them, the wheel which drove her work took center stage.
Her tools were strewn about…scrappers, carving blades, clay, water, and a wheel to name a few. Within the shop, “The Potter Daughter,” the potter daughter fielded questions.
“So why did you name your shop as you did?” I asked.
“Oh, my mom and dad had three daughters. I am the only one who is a potter and thus, I am known as the potter daughter. This is my dad’s garage where he had a repair shop for many a year. He did his work right here. I loved this place. So, I turned it into my studio and shop.”
She welcomed all who entered into her world, and freely shared what knowledge she had of her trade. Oddly enough, it didn’t seem like knowledge she gave to others who came; it seemed more like love.
A woman in the back of the shop was hoping to begin her own pottery business and listened intently to a few pointers. A local was relaxing near the front table keeping an eye on the goods…enabling her to visit with her guests. In solitude he sat midmorning looking as if he was thankful to have a place to go, sipping coffee as he sat. The two seemed to know the rhythm of the work before them.
As I combed the shelves admiring her work, it was easy to see that He was ever present. The fruit of the Spirit was around each bowl which lipped the words, “love, patience, kindness, goodness, humility…”
What the potter called a wine goblet took on chalice form and in a nearby basket Bible verses were etched for Confirmation.
Perhaps there’s a little bit of a “Potter Daughter” in us all. Or better yet, The Potter’s Daughter/The Potter’s Son.
Jeremiah 18:1-5 brings it home. “Jeremiah, go down to the potter’s house. I will give you my message there. So I went down to the potter’s house and saw him working with clay at the wheel. He was making a pot from clay. But there was something wrong with the pot. So the potter used that clay to make another pot. With his hands he shaped the pot the way he wanted it to be. Then this message from the Lord came to me: ‘Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s hand, and I am the potter.’”
May we be open to being made and remade as the Potter sees fit. Amen.