Seeing school supplies line the shelves of every store was a reminder that this season has ended for me.
While moms across the country restocked backpacks with fresh supplies of pencils, notebooks, and either scientific calculators or crayons, this was the first time in 27 years that I didn’t.
It isn’t like I was totally caught off guard. As a mom of six kids, I have actually been preparing for this empty nest moment for several years, but it is still a hard transition to make.
Instead of driving to school and signing up for Snack Shack duty at home football games, I took a pottery class. What I learned had as much to do with my life as it did to the clay I held in my hands.
There are three basic lessons that have resonated with me this week as I look forward to my next class, I hope they connect with you as well.
1. BALANCE IS INTENTIONAL – A ball of clay on the wheel needs purposed guidance to find the perfect center. It doesn’t happen right away. The potter needs to “cone up” and “cup down” with the intent of getting all the organic material in the clay to line up and find the center of the wheel before anything even begins to take shape. If this is NOT done to perfection, as soon as the wheel picks up speed, the potter feels the imbalance and the clay will potentially fling to the side.
Life Lesson – Finding balance in our lives is crucial. Even being almost balanced will show up in the final product as soon as we are put under pressure. It is OK to stop what you are doing, acknowledge that you are feeling the distinct wobble of imbalance and focus on becoming re-centered.
2. MESS HAPPENS – Who knew that clay could give you the slip! But that is exactly what the silty substance is called when the clay has water added. In about 3.5 seconds my Converse tennis shoes, my pants, and my watch were speckled with clay. But, adding water and making the mess is not an option when you are working at the wheel. Water allows the potter to move and manipulate the clay so it can be shaped. Mess happens. There is nothing tidy about the space while something is on the wheel. If the clay gets too dry, it begins to stick to your hands and shaping is halted.
Life Lesson – It is easy to panic when we feel like life is getting messy. When it feels like there is more mess then we can clean up at a moments notice, sometimes we attempt to control what is causing the “slip”. We halt what is actually being shaped in our lives, and in our children’s lives.
3. GENTLENESS CHANGES EVERYTHING – When the potter’s hands are on clay that is centered on the moving wheel, pressure and force are added. But the thing that will cause an utter collapse as the piece begins taking shape might not have anything to do with how wide or tall you want the finished product to be. It might be because of the approach and release the potter’s hands have on the clay itself. Abruptly letting go of the forming piece at any point of the wheel process can ruin the whole project. Take it from someone who had three bowls collapse during class!
Holding the vessel in our hands gently before applying pressure or releasing pressure keeps the clay balanced on the moving wheel. Who knew!
Life Lesson – There is a gentleness to approaching what we are dealing with in life, especially if pressure is added. Abruptly taking charge or letting go can cause an imbalance that is difficult to identify until there is a collapse.
We call it gentleness. God calls it grace. We need to be willing to give others grace during times when they feel like they are being shaped. We need to give ourselves gentleness and grace as well.
When tears no one else sees are wept into your pillow, or you feel like a clay pot that has collapsed from being out of balance, you need to remember that you are not alone.
You are going to get through a season or transition. It is a time of reflection and looking ahead. Loss and gain. It is a time to gently approach and gently let go.
For me, this is a time to take a few pottery classes and learn something new.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” Ecclesiastes 3:1
So thankful to have recently been on a Focus on the Family broadcast that featured “Empty Nest; Strategies to Help your Kids Take Flight”.