Three Baskets Full

It is late August, and classes have begun at the local schools.  The Graduate Theological Union including Church Divinity School will begin classes just after Labor Day.  The sky is blue and the weather warm.  It does not quite have the feel of harvest time that it have during the next months, but it does have a feeling of gathering together, if not gathering in.  I am always energized during this time of year. 

I have no desire to return to school other than joining in Morning Prayer at Church Divinity School when I can, have plenty of books without adding more and live close enough to Berkeley without needing to be there.  However, I am aware of the tremendous abundance that I have received through all of my education in Studio Art, Christian Theology and Ministry, and Depth Psychology. Through God’s grace, I continue to draw strength, vision, meaning, skills, and purpose from these three tremendous bushel baskets of learning.  I am grateful.

What does this late August time mean for you?  What gifts of education have you received?  How did this education form you? How do you use it in your daily life? I invite you to pray for all students and educators as the school year begins. 


A Good Name

A frequently asked question is “how did I come up with the name Earthenware Ministry for my Christian Spiritual Direction practice?”  There are three major sources for the name.

The first is that as a young adult, I completed an undergraduate art program in ceramic sculpture.  So, I am familiar with types of clay.  As a sculptor, I used mostly high fire clay.  It was powdered clay, water, and grog mixed with our feet before it was scooped up to fill the clay bin.  Most sculpture students used the clay in the bin.  It was heavy and forgiving.  If the clay did crack before or after firing, the usual response from Stephen De Staebler was something like: “Clay does that.  What do you want to do with it?”  I loved having the freedom to explore what I wanted to do, and what I could do, with this medium.

However, if I reflect upon the kind of clay that I might be, I am not groggy high fire sculpture mix, nor am I porcelain, I am earthenware: ordinary, functional and often beautiful.  It is enough.

The second source for the name earthenware ministry comes from scripture.  Paul writes to the Corinthians about the hardships of ministry by saying “But we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, so that the immensity of the power is God’s and not our own.”  (2 Corinthians 4:7, New Jerusalem Bible).  In the paragraph before he writes that “It is not ourselves that we are proclaiming, but Christ Jesus as the Lord, and ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4: 5, New Jerusalem Bible).  Earthenware Ministry is a Christian ministry of spiritual direction and as a Christian spiritual director, I take it seriously as a foundational statement of faith and practice that I am not proclaiming myself in any capacity. The power is God’s and in Christian spiritual direction, we together attempt to tune our ears to God’s on-going call.

The third source for the name Earthenware Ministry comes from my being over 60 and regularly working with elders who are often 30 years older than I am.  I am aware of my own fragility and strength as well as the fragility and strength of those people to whom I attend.  I am earthenware: ordinary, functional and often beautiful.  So are they, and so are those who risk letting another listen prayerfully to what is on their hearts and minds.

Three inter-related sources for a name – a good name.