Our Existence Is Gifted To Us…..

A jar made by Father Theophan, above, will be available in the silent auction at ‘An Evening of Classics with Jennifer Perez and Tjett Gerdom’ Sept. 19 at Fuller Lodge. Courtesy photo

St. Job of Pochaiv Orthodox Church

At the beginning of the summer I had resigned myself to not doing any art this year. I have a huge assignment from the Archbishop; to lead the self-study that will, hopefully, lead to our seminary receiving its full accreditation and therefore, national recognition. It is no mean feat. The thesis I produced to get my MDiv was simpler and will end up being shorter.

Unexpectedly, as things would have it, I’ve been asked to sit down at the wheel and teach five people how to throw pottery in the last couple of weeks. In the process, I’ve made a little pottery for myself.

Throwing is a feeling like nothing else, anyone who has watched the movie “Ghost” should at least be intrigued. Of course, it’s not exactly like that, but it is unique.

It is an almost magical experience, of almost true creation. Taking a raw material with no discernable structure or pre-existing form and turning it (pun intended) into something that can be useful, beautiful, and lasting.

It is no wonder that the analogy of the potter and the clay is used in Scripture to relate God’s relationship to us, his creation. What does the clay have to say to the potter in judgment of its own form, its own telos, or purpose? We can, and often do, rail and complain against our status or station in life, or our immediate circumstances when things seem to conspire against our happiness or peace.

But as many a teenager has screamed at their parents, “I didn’t ask to be born!” No, we did not bring ourselves into being. Existence is thrust upon us unbidden, but it is a precondition for the limited judgment we throw back at our Creator or just the cosmos in general. We have a brief, restricted, and limited perspective of what our meaning is. A short brutish life, possibly. Of quiet desperation at times, probably. But it is a life, nonetheless, and, “Life in a box is better than no life at all.”

Our existence is gifted to us. We might not enjoy the gift all the time or even know what to do with it, but it is all we have.

Once in a while we may get the chance to do the pleasant things that we enjoy, things might actually work out in our favor, someone might acknowledge our contribution or effort. And that should be enough to bring gratitude back to our hearts. To remind us of the good we share. I was glad to be asked to sit at the wheel for a few hours. I was just being kind, introducing others to a joy that I have found. Hopefully they will hold on to it for a long time and it will lighten their difficult days as it did mine.