Wisdom & Clay Pots
February 2, 2023
I’ve been thinking about this idea that wisdom comes with age, and what that really means. Clearly, it’s not automatic. Wisdom is gained through experience in which we increase our understanding and capacity, come to know ourselves better, and hopefully love ourselves and others a little more. We stretch and grow, often by breaking open from the inside. In the process, more light can get in. That light illumines, softens, heals, and awakens us. Wisdom comes.
I’ve noticed that the more I learn, the more I realize I still don’t know or understand. Perhaps this, too, is wisdom. This awareness is only possible in the presence of humility and grace. When we stay locked up in our constructs of certainty, comfort, and control, we may feel safe, but the light of wisdom is blocked. Fear is the architect, and it serves as a room-darkening shade. We may wish to keep out anything that makes us uncomfortable or threatens our sense of security, like some inconvenient truths about ourselves, our family, our culture, or our country. Wisdom is delivered through courage, discomfort, and honesty.
Perhaps wisdom is like pottery, which reminds me of my dad. He took a pottery class at the local college when he retired. He spent many hours in the studio with his hands covered in clay, shaping, spinning, and finishing a variety of bowls, cups, vases, and pitchers. He became quite a skilled potter, and gifted family and friends with his beautiful clay pieces. Wisdom is gained through our willingness to open our hands and get them dirty, to hold and shape the clay of our experience, and to allow the fire of Divine Love to do the rest.
Just as he was a potter in his later years, my dad believed that he himself was clay in Divine Hands. He spoke often of being held in God’s Love. He let that Love shape and guide him, smooth the rough places, and fill him to overflowing. I don’t recall him ever trying to prove his knowledge or expertise; instead, he expressed humility, compassion, and grace. This is what wisdom looks like to me. It can come with age if we let life teach and soften us, even break us open. My parents both continued to learn and grow to the end of their lives. They were warm and wise and wonderful. They weren’t perfect. Their cracks were openings to the light of wisdom and love.
In this upside-down world it is easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed. We search for meaning in the mess and an effective response. I keep coming back to the potter’s wheel. I sit and surrender, knowing that I don’t have the answers. I ask for Love to shape me, fill me, use me. I ask for wisdom, guidance, and strength. I remind myself that this is enough, I am enough, and Love is everywhere. As I join with others whose hands and hearts are open, joy spins the wheel and love shapes the mess into something beautiful.
Cheers & Clay Pots,
Elisa J. Juarez