Clay's Story

A metaphor


Kristin Baker

person making pot
person making pot

Clay’s Story

By Kristin Baker

Hello, my name is Clay. My story began the same as all my kind in the earth from whence I came; but I don’t remember that very well. Seems I awakened to a severing of myself, and the sensation of strenuous massage. The rhythmic movement and persistent pressure were strangely both comforting and painful. Slowly I yielded my memory, my control.

Next, I was set on a scale to be weighed. Seemingly satisfied, Hands then formed me into an embryo-like ball; only to wrap me up and set me aside.

I felt confused.






Slammed awake I was onto a hard surface.




For a terrifying few moments, I thought I’d fly right off, but for Hands again. Soft this time. And wet. Sloppy wet.

WoooOOOP, up I went. And DOwnnn. Strange, but the more up and down I went, the more secure I began to feel. Out of control, but centered.




But not dizzy.

Hey now! A hole in the middle of me? I can only yield. With no form left of what I was, and no idea of what I’m becoming. I’m mud with a hole in my heart.

Hands touches me ever so gently now; like a whisper. I yield more easily.




Hello? Where did Hands go?!

My world has been whirling so I’ve forgotten how to be still.




Quiet and alone.

On a shelf.

Forgetting. Hardening. Empty.




On the wheel again. Hands was nowhere to be seen or felt, but a knife. I missed the touchy-feely days of my youth. Shreds of me fell away in circlets; no more a part of me. And I was lighter, more defined.

Hands picked me up. Brushed me off. Why now? What could He want with me, so brittle? What happened next rattled my faith in Hands. We – other vessels same kind of different as me – were crowded into a tight space.


Fiercely HOT!!!

Together, but each feeling one’s own pain.

This too passed.

Now I’d seen fire and I’d seen rain. Had a pretty good handle and a respectable form. Life was good. But, um... kind dull. For all that I’d been through, I still felt unfinished somehow.

Then... headlong into a bucket of despair.


But nor spinning.



You’d think by now I’d get the pattern of paradox; how Hands gets what He wants by doing the opposite of what you’d expect. Spinning to stabilize. Wetting to dry. Cutting to add... But when you’re glazed on the grey, you don’t get nothin’.

Back in the inferno. Again, you may wonder, having survived it before, I’d not dread it again. Not so. Hope gets forgotten. Now I knew what to fear. Pain is only a word until you’re in it. Then all you want is out. Pain changes you.

But when Hands pulled me out of the kiln, the me I saw in His eyes made the pain obsolete. The spanking, the spinning, the drying and glazing, the burning was all worthwhile to be an oeuvre of HIs genius, a vessel of HIs love. Then began the astonishingly beautiful realization, my life had just begun.

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter. We are the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

By way of explanation:

A present day potter receives clay in an initially large, plastic covered block is; a very firm block pieces of which are cut by wire string and measured by weight to appropriate amount. The clay must necessarily then be “wedged” ; an aggressive kneading technique to retrain its molecular memory.

The softened clay is then literally slammed center of the wheel to ensure a good stick. As the wheel spins, deft hands push the clay up and down, wilst adding water, to orient the molecules into rounding. This is called coning. A hole is then ready to be formed, and the vessel is coaxed into its recognizable shape.

From the wheel to the shelf, it is left to dry. Once the clay is “leather hard”, the potter will often return it to the wheel, using a cutting tool to define the base and eliminate excess bulk. That done, the vessel is fired in the kiln.

Color is added by glazing, either by brush or immersion. For the purpose of the story, immersion was used analogous of depression. The glaze is usually a drab color but transforms by the intense heat. What comes out of the second kiln firing after such a journey is the final product; a functional piece of art ready for life long service.