Perfect… in the Potter’s Hands

When a potter sets out to make an object, he first takes a lump of clay and plops in onto his wheel. At least, that’s the way it’s done these days, when clay is obtained commercially and not from the clayhole out in back of the shed. In the old days, as I’ve been told, the potter would get a quantity of clay, dump it onto a table, and begin sifting through it with his fingers in order to locate pebbles and other debris that had to be removed before the clay could be worked. Then he’d have to either let the clay dry out a bit in order for it to be pliable, or add water to it for the same end.

But whenever he places that clay on the wheel, only he knows what the final product is intended to be. All you or I could see would be a quantity of clay. But that’s okay — it’s supposed to be only clay at this stage of the process, and it’s perfectly a lump of clay.

Then he starts to turn his wheel (old-time potters around here use foot-treadle wheels). With calm certainty the palms of his hands and his fingers press against the clay, which rises up and takes shape as he directs.

Not until the process is well underway can you or I tell what the potter is making — a bowl, a vase, a mug… but the potter knows. And even in those early, unidentifiable stages of the process, the clay is perfectly being shaped in his hands. At each stage of the process, the work-in-progress is perfect, exactly what the potter wants it to be at that moment.

You and I, the Bible tells us, in the Psalms and in Jeremiah, are clay in the Potter’s hands. We are not now what we are going to become, but at this point in the process, we are perfectly what we ought to be in His hands. Not yet perfected, but becoming so.

and a new Conversion begins..

Talking with my friend Lina, who’s talking with her son’s girlfriend… Joy has felt the Presence of Christ in the “gold box,” the Tabernacle, and said her “Yes!” to Him. “It makes sense now,” she says.

That “Yes” is the single most important word Joy, or you or I, will ever utter. I said my “Yes” to Christ back in the summer of 1975, after I saw Him hanging on the Cross, beaten to a bloody pulp with his flesh in gaping lacerations, for the sake of restoring me to union with the Father. Not “the world,” mind you, but me, Laura, individually.

But we keep saying “Yes” as we discern His personal will for us. Yes, He wants us to live in union with Him, close to His Sacred Heart. But what vocation? Marriage or consecrated celibacy? What lifework are we called to? What individual mission at any given moment of the day?

And which sins are we hanging on to? What grudges? What vanities of mind and heart do we treasure? When He asks us to hand them over to Him, to protect us from the harm they can do us, do we willingly offer Him our “Yes”?

The Apostle Paul urged the Roman Church to be transformed by the renewing of their minds — them, and us, too. This is conversion, and it is an ongoing, lifelong process, not once for all. We cast ourselves into His arms, as it were, but then there is this ongoing occupation of becoming so like Him that we others can see His likeness in our lives, as they can see my dad’s in my face.

Conversion Story getting wider readership

I was blessed immensely to be able to attend the Fourth Annual Ignited by Truth Conference in Raleigh over the week-end, where I got to hear former Baptist evangelist Steve Ray, author of Crossing the Tiber and several other wonderful books and video series (see the website), not only give his testimony but also provide some exciting biblical background — and geographical as well as Scriptural context — to many of the Gospel foundations of our Faith.

I got to meet Steve after his initial talk on Friday evening, and yesterday I sent him my conversion story, “Prelude and Fugue in Faith,” which as many of you know was one of the first things I awkwardly posted on this blog (back in the April and May archives). Well, Steve has posted “Prelude and Fugue in Faith” on his website, along with many, many other exciting stories. If you go to the site I linked above, then look along the top directional bar to “Stories,” you should not have any trouble finding it.

I also urge you to take some time to become acquainted with his Catholic Convert website. It’s packed with some wonderful articles and papers that Steve and others have prepared as they’ve come to share their own decisions to become Catholic — a fantastic resource for those of us who are called on to defend our Faith! and who isn’t?

Actually — Steve made a point I want to share with you. When he and his wife attended their very first Mass, Janet came out afterward shaking with rage. She was angry with their Protestant tradition for lying to them… but she was even angrier with Catholics for not telling them the Truth. Friends, we aren’t just to defend our Faith, we need to be out there assertively sharing it. Are we? I haven’t been, but that’s going to be changing as of NOW.

and more updates —

Got an email from my friend Donna last night — her daughter-in-law Jenn is doing well, and the baby is a boy! They are all very excited about this. There will be no more grandchildren after this one (so they are all determined at this point) and this will be the one boy in a cluster of girls. So far, Jenn is doing well and has not had the problems with her heart that troubled her earlier in this pregnancy and throughout her first one. They all say Thanks for the prayers.

I also saw Eric at school this week. His wife is “hangin’ in there,” and they say, “Please keep praying. It’s the only thing that’s getting them through all this mess.”

And in today’s news…

Our local paper has published the news that one of our doctors has turned in his license to practice medicine in response to accusations that he has behaved inappropriately with female patients. Of course, the reporter didn’t stop with just the basic information; he had to go into great deatail about just what sort of inappropriate contact the doctor had been alleged to have had with the women filing the complaints against him.

This happens to be… my doctor. He’s also a fellow Catholic, a member of my original parish, a husband and a father. When my ex-husband had a medical crisis early in our marriage, this doctor was his admitting physician and saw both of us through a difficult and, for me, frightening episode. I’ve seen him since for sinusitis and other general ailments (fortunately for me, the only sorts of ailments I suffer).

When I started attending Mass in anticipation of converting, he and his wife were among the first people I became (re-)acquainted with. They were warm and welcoming. At one point they looked at property that was for sale adjacent to mine, and I had hoped we would become neighbors. I’ve observed this man with his family in Mass and at local restaurants — I’ve seen his patience and kindness with a highly energetic son and with crying babies.

I don’t understand how a man, serious about his religion and blessed with a lovely and affectionate wife and beautiful family, could fall in such a flagrant way, but I know it does happen. I don’t know how a woman, knowing her husband, the man to whom she is linked, body and spirit, has violated the promises of their marriage covenant, can survive such a blow… but women do it every day.

But this wife has the additional burden of particular details of her betrayal and humiliation being placed in print for the general public to read and talk about. The extent of the detail was certainly not necessary; it seems to me that prurient interests were being catered to, not genuine reporting.

Whatever happens in their family, this newspaper article has made their situation even more difficult. There must be some means of holding reporters and publishers to moral responsibility, sensitivity to those innocent people whose lives are disrupted by scandalous disclosures, common decency.

and in other news…

In addition to Abby, I’ve been sent an update on the two individuals who were listed as undergoing spiritual discernment. My friend says one of them has simply lost interest, and the other seems never to have had any intention of really learning about the Church but was more intent on converting her from Catholicism.

It’s a very strong reminder for me, though, of the need to daily pray for the conversion of souls.

Prayer Update: baby Abby

I’ve received a nice, newsy email from Abby’s grandmother, and she has good news about baby Abby, who has been the subject of many of your prayers following her diagnosis, shortly after her birth, with thyroid problems: I am very well and Abby is doing brilliantly as well. Her medication is working well, she just needs regular check ups and as she grows her dosage will be adjusted. She is a very happy little girl, she sleeps all night (nearly every night and is developing a very giggly personality.

I actually removed Abby from the prayer list a while back, but I’m glad to be able to provide such a good update. Deo Gratias!

I think I’m back…

Hi, Friends —
I’ve been away, more than not, for more than a month now. First it was computer problems (thanks, Pete, for saving my laptop for a few more hours of hard grind!). Then it was illness — I’ve had upper respiratory problems including repeated sinus infections and laryngitis since the day before our Messiah performance (that would be December 9/10). I’m starting to get back on my feet, and I hope to resume regular posting…

… not that I have much to say that will change the face of the nation. I’ve got several drafts going of some new stuff… including a stab at some reflections on the recent uprisings of Islamic extremists (?) over the Danish cartoon images of Mohammed… we’ll see what winds up for the world to see. Thanks for your ongoing prayers.