I have had a LOT of time to think about my radical departure from the military. It seems not so long ago anymore, living again in the land of palm trees and gentle breezes. My life has changed so drastically, traumatically in some areas, that I am still amazed at the process God put me through to get to where I am today. Can you believe it was only almost TWO years ago I wrote my Tale of a Cowardly Lion? It wasn’t long after the very day I got out of active duty, Oct. 19, 2006, and wrote my Liberty and Justice for All essay. In that short time, I moved across country (twice), went to the West Bank, and spent a year in community with some of the greatest people God put on this earth (outside my own family, of course). Dude.
Something has been bothering me, though. Back when all this started, I still felt a very clear, almost intrusive, presence of God in my life. Where I have been recently (during and after all those prior-mentioned transitions and life changes) has not been the greatest spot. I have had some pretty shitty days in between early 2006 and now. And most of them were AFTER April 20, 2006! Fortunately, I think I have recently discovered a bit of a reason to give myself to understand this perplexing reality.
My friend Chris is a part time potter, and I leaned just a bit from him about pottery. You know when a potter goes to begin his work at the wheel? Well, first we gotta realize how much time he has already put into thinking and planning what the lump of clay he throws in front of himself will eventually become. The creative process begins long before that moment, and we would do well to recognize how important that period is. Once the potter has an idea of what he wants to make his clay become, an immense amount of detail is used in planning exactly how to create just the right texture, shape, and all kinds of other things. Anyway, maybe the most important moment is that nanosecond when the Potter first touches the soft clay. It could be said that that single moment is the most shaping of any that the potter and clay will share…
That nanosecond, for me, was a quiet moment on a Bluebird Bus on Wheeler Army Airfield early in 2006. What’s weird is that I often reflect on my own ‘moment’ nostalgically, as something lived and lost. I think I have been viewing it in the wrong light though. I forget that the Potter must finish His work, it isn’t just abandoned on the wheel after his first touch! And he isn’t just into cups and plates, He crafts intricate vases and pitchers; the most exquisite pottery you can imagine. A gentle touch of His hands, one brief moment, is all it takes. All the rest is no less vital though, His fingerprints slowly warming the cold hard clay, softening the shapeless masses of you and me into increasingly discernible shapes.
…and that is just the beginning