The world lost Mike six years ago today.
Mike was larger than life. He made everyone feel special. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders . . . and he'd never even seen my pottery. He just knew it was in my heart.
Long before our first daughter was born, I realized I had two big dreams: to be a potter and to be a mom. By the time Casey went to kindergarten, we had another daughter, a son, and a third daughter on the way. By the end of kindergarten, I knew we had to make a change because that particular school was not a good match for her. So, my husband and I made the choice to be a homeschooling family which meant I needed to put pottery on hold for a while.
In November of 2010, I got the first of several nudges from God and from the universe letting me know that pottery was waiting for me and that the time was getting closer for me to pick it back up. I found out about, and immediately registered for an Arts and Sabbath retreat at Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, NC. The focus of the week would be pottery. I was thrilled and didn't know how I could wait the 6 months until May.
Mike was one of the first people I told after I registered. He was so excited for me he almost jumped out of his skin. Every time I saw him after that, he talked about pottery and how happy he was for me. In early spring, Mike told me he wanted to commission a piece of pottery for Janet, his wife, for their 30th anniversary which was coming up at the end of May. I laughed and said "Mike, I don't think it'll happen this year, but maybe next."
We lost Mike just a few short weeks after that and two weeks before I went to Montreat. He was certainly on my mind while I was there.
I left home afraid. What if the dream I'd put on hold for 16 years had gotten tired of waiting on me? What if I found out that I really didn't love clay as much as I'd remembered? What if I didn't really want to be a potter after all?
I had one expectation of my week at Montreat: to keep my hands in clay as much as I could while I was there. I figured that since I was only going to be there a few days, it would be more like playing with play dough; I'd make stuff and then ball the clay up and put it back in the bag for the next person.
The first morning, we began with a short meditation. Then we walked down to the stream running beside the pottery studio and collected our buckets of throwing water. The studio has pottery wheels lining its wrap-around covered porch and not only can you feel the breeze, but you can also hear the stream and the birds.
Its beautiful. And serene.
I threw my first lump of clay down on the wheel head, splashed water on it and said a quick prayer . . . a plea actually.
The clay began to turn on the wheel and as I placed my hands on it to center it, I knew the truth.
My dream had not left me. It had waited for me.
I ended up bringing several finished pots home. One was a sweet little slab bowl with "peace" stamped on the inside. It was unlike any of the other pots I'd made.
Over the next couple of weeks, that little bowl kept grabbing my attention. I would pick it up and just sit with it. As Mike and Janet's anniversary date got closer and closer, I realized that the bowl had been made for Janet; it was Mike's anniversary gift to her.
I know I will never heal the world with pottery.
But I also know that pottery, that art, is not frivolous. It moves us. It stirs our souls. It connects people and can make us laugh or cry. It makes statements and makes us think. It brings us joy and becomes part of our memories.
And sometimes, it even has the power to bring some healing.