“You know the Spirit is in you and with you.”
On my birthday last year my friend Anne gifted me a beautiful piece of pottery by the well-known Southern potter, Tena Payne. It sits on my coffee table, my “glory jar.” Sometimes it is filled with guitar picks, pennies, or chocolate.
In 2 Corinthians 4: 7-12, Paul compares the soul tucked into the human frame to a treasure kept in a clay jar. The metaphor would have certainly resonated with his first century audience because they all stored their most valuable olive oils and wines in terracotta amphorae. He urgently wanted the community in Corinth to know their lives were sacred with holy purpose. Eugene Peterson says, “We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.” Our mission is to share it. No matter how fragile our containers or the challenges life presents, ultimately our value is as a carrier of the Divine spark. Thomas Merton calls it “the pure glory of God within us.” We are living “glory jars” with the capacity to love and act in the world as God’s emissaries.
Some people discover earlier than others the amazing gift within their possession. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a funeral for a young friend, fellow church member, and celebrated lacrosse coach in our community. There was not an available seat in the pews because they were filled with hundreds of kids to whom Coach Smith had taught lacrosse, but more importantly, had imparted how to live a meaningful, love-expressing life. Chris was one of the Potter’s best “glory jars.”
A minister once said, “we think our lives are all about us, but really it’s all about God.”
Shovel the ground on an archeological site in the Holy Land, and you are probably going to find the remains of ancient pottery. Those earthen jars were only meant to serve for a short time. Paul tells us in his second letter to the Corinthians, that we should never lose heart. Outwardly, we may appear fragile and perishable, inwardly God is renewing us every single day. He commands us to focus our attention not on what is seen, but what is unseen. The earthen jar is temporary, but its contents are eternal. Live from one’s soul and the reward is a sacred existence.
I recently rediscovered the special book, A Book of Hours, by Thomas Merton. Merton writes, “We do not know we are full of paradise because we are so full of our own noise that we cannot hear God singing us and all things into beauty.” I am learning that when I am tired, self-focused, too busy, and feeling a little lackluster, the world does not receive the best from me. No glory! I am a fan of Thich Nhat Hanh’s breathing meditation below as a way to slow down, get quiet, recenter, and remember who I am truly.
Wherever you are, however chipped your pottery—persevere! You are incredibly valuable and God needs you to do what you were made for. Our daily work is to pass on love, the “glory in the jar!”
I hope you have a blessed week,