This is an article I wrote for the London Centre of Spiritual Direction blog, and it didn’t occur to me at the time to post it on my own blog, so here it is now, better late than never, I hope!
I work at the London Centre for Spiritual Direction in London as an Ignatian spiritual director, and also teach on the Ignatian training course. It is work I find immensely fulfilling and feel very grateful for, both for the work itself and the privilege of accompanying people, and also for the community of friends and colleagues at the Centre.
I am also a potter, and during Lent and Easter this year, I showed, in the Centre, two collections of pots and vessels made over the past 18 months – a bringing together of these important parts of myself and who God has made me to be.
Firstly my ‘Lent Pots’:
In 2016 I decided that during Lent I would throw a pot each day. In the preceding months I had spent very little time in my studio and was sorely out of practice at throwing.
It proved to be a delightful, absorbing and loving exercise. Although a number of the pots ‘slumped’ in the making, those 40 days improved my throwing and taught me much about the need to be dedicated to my creative practice. It also provided a springboard into a much freer, experimental and ‘wild’ approach to my pottery, producing what I call my ‘Easter’ pots (see below).
What has all this to do with Lent?
My daily commitment spoke to me of God’s dedication to forming me, day by day, including the days that I ‘slump’.
It taught me not to be ashamed of my ‘failures’ – that what looks like failure can be part of a creative, joyful, life-giving process.
It taught me to play, with shape and colour, letting go of ‘right & wrong’ and of fearing judgement.
In valuing myself and what brings me joy, I experienced and trusted more in God’s loving gaze and delight in me.
Some pots not only slumped, but cracked in the firing, and to these I applied the Japanese craft of ‘Kintsugi’, repairing the cracks with gold lacquer. This, for me, conveys the deepest meaning of Lent & Easter, that what is broken is still beautiful. Indeed, it is beautiful and full of new life BECAUSE it is broken.
Then came my ‘Easter Pots’:
I began making these pots at a week-long ceramic workshop I attended just after Easter 2016, where I arrived and said ‘I’ve come to make a mess’! I wanted to find more freedom in my making.
And it worked! I have had such fun making these. Beginning with smaller wheel-thrown pots and moving to larger, hand-built ones, I have felt freer, bolder, much less anxious about the outcome or others’ opinion. A friend said some of them look volcanic, which really pleased me as it suggests something raw and primal, organic, forged in the depths. It does feel that they are coming from a true, loving place deep in myself.
There has been almost no planning to them, much more a ‘let’s wait and see’ approach, accepting the shapes and patterns as they come, in some cases splattering colour as a child might.
They are teaching me about playful creativity, and about a God who is playfully and continuously creative, who loves me whatever shape and colour I am, indeed who MADE me the shape and colour I am, and who invites me to join in with, as well as submit to, the on-going, still-emerging process of creation.
Is this what resurrection is? A being loved into the fulness of who we are, discovering that we ‘live and have our being’ in the flow of God’s unstoppable, ever-loving, ever-enlivening and joyful creative energy?
It has been a joy to share these with the community in the Centre, and now with you. You can see more of my work at https://www.facebook.com/annettekayeceramics/