we are clay

the power of the arts enables us to be touched by God.

as i get older, i believe more and more of the importance of music, paintings, dance, sculptures and poetry. technology now is enhancing the arts in incredible ways. the arts touch our souls in ways that other disciplines cannot. the most heartfelt emotions are evoked through the arts. faith can grow, be understood and nurtured through the arts: the Holy Spirit moves our souls through good artwork.

just think for a moment about your favorite painting or poem. each time you see its beauty or hear its penetrating words, you become more of who you really are.

when the arts are coupled with the lasting words of sacred scripture, our faith deepens. president-elect biden in a speech last week mentioned fondly his favorite catholic song (from psalm 91)– on eagles wings. this song-memory is connected to his love for his deceased son beau. the story of the good samaritan shows us an important aspect of love and neighbor. jesus washing the feet of the disciples at the last supper ingrains in us the need of service because jesus broke bread with his friends.

over the centuries, the pieta from michelangelo has made people weep. the image of our lady of guadalupe inspires both abuelitas (grandmothers) and gang-bangers to offer up their lives for others. the Spirit’s presence through the arts is a spiritual gift of love and grace.

as we begin the liturgical season of advent, we hear in the first reading a powerful poem-song from the prophet isaiah and a wonderful metaphor of faith. the last verse is, “Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.” (i include the full reading at the end of the post.)

we are being fashioned like clay in the hand of the Master potter. indeed, we are dust and to dust we shall return.

in this poem, the author feels that God has abandoned them. the weight of sin has crushed them. the cry, “return… oh that you would tear the heavens open and come down,” is from the heart.

but within the lamentation, is a deeper truth: in our struggle and tears, God is forming and shaping us. we are the clay in God’s hand.


sometimes, we feel the pointed pressure of the potter’s fingers. there are times we are spun rapidly and become dizzy. at times, water is added to make us more pliable. sometimes we feel crushed to the floor and have to start over. once in a while, we just sit silently in the potter’s hand and feel the loving gaze of our maker. there are many ways in which we are shaped through life’s circumstances.

how can we more readily know the ways that our struggles, hurts, disappointments, frustrations, betrayals, physical ailments and losses of loved ones are shaping us? how can we have more trust and faith that in God’s hand, we are becoming who we really are and who we desire to be? how do we live as to know that we are all the work of God’s hand?

the Spirit will grace us with the wisdom that we are the clay in the hand of God the master potter. oftentimes, we only know it once the spinning stops…

let us pray: Lord, please continue to form us through the joys and the tears of life. help us know in our hearts your providential hand in it all. shape us in your grace-filled love and through it all may we know your peace. Amen


You, Lord, yourself are our Father, ‘Our Redeemer’ is your ancient name. Why, Lord, leave us to stray from your ways and harden our hearts against fearing you? Return, for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance. Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down! – at your Presence the mountains would melt. No ear has heard, no eye has seen any god but you act like this for those who trust him. You guide those who act with integrity and keep your ways in mind. You were angry when we were sinners; we had long been rebels against you. We were all like men unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing. We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind. No one invoked your name or roused himself to catch hold of you. For you hid your face from us and gave us up to the power of our sins. And yet, Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand. —Isaiah 63:16-17,64:1,3-8


  1. Nora says:

    Well said Father…. (I love this verse too!😀) I too feel the tension, pressure and gentle nudges from “our potter” to continously mold and shape me. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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