The work in becoming

I have but shadowed forth my intense longing to lose myself in the Eternal and become merely a lump of clay in the Potter’s divine hands so that my service may become more certain because uninterrupted by the baser self in me.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“I want to help you to grow as beautiful as God
meant you to be when He thought of you first.”

― George MacDonald

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

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(an area of bog being dug…peat bogs, the spongy base which makes up so much of Ireland is dug up, cut or formed into bricks, dried and used for fuel, it is also becoming a medium for artists who sculpt and carve beautiful images from the intense black bog / somewhere along Gleann Cholm Cille / County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Any potter, ceramist, or sculptor will tell you that before there is a mug, a plate, a bowl, a vase, a statue, a figurine, a sculpture…
there is a lot of digging, mixing, processing, rolling, watering, wedging, pushing, shoving, beating, slapping, pinching, moulding, slamming, overlapping, smashing, smushing, forming, pulling, prying, poking, smoothing, burning, cooking, heating, coloring, glazing….

Clay…before it becomes something of beauty or of purpose, or even both, must first go through a complete overhaul–both physically as well as molecularly. It is considered to be a perfect medium in the minds of many an artist as it is forgiving, up to a point, and can be transformed into almost anything…

A naturally occurring raw product taken directly from the earth, add in a little refinement, then placed in just the right hands, a seemingly magical if not mystical transformation from mere dirt and a little water, emerges into something of both practical use and amazing beauty. A new creation emerging from something initially so simple, mostly overlooked and certainly taken for granted… with just the needed and necessary work, results in an amazing metamorphosis.

Is it then any wonder that man is so often compared to clay which has been given over the hands of the master Creator?
That which was formed from dust and ash…
In the heavenly eyes of the One True Creator, a raw natural product, incomplete and in great need of forming, shaping, prodding, moulding, firing and finishing…

That when eventually transformed, becomes a thing of beauty that is both strong and fragile all rolled into one.

We live our entire lives in the hands of the One who works tirelessly and lovingly forming, shaping, reshaping, heating and coaxing out that which is within.
Forever patient, as is any potter, He tenderly yet persistently works and reworks His clay into a thing of wonder.

It is however a life long process, one not always realized—this forming, moulding, making and becoming….
At times it is most painful and difficult, trying and even excruciating… yet when all is said and done, the final result is indeed a treasure to behold…

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:15-16

Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”
So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me.
He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.
Jeremiah 8:2-6

peaks and valleys

Life is supposed to be a series of peaks and valleys. The secret is to keep the valleys from becoming Grand Canyons.
Bernard Williams

“As the valley gives height to the mountain, so can sorrow give meaning to pleasure; as the well is the source of the fountain, deep adversity can be a treasure.”
William Arthur Ward

In the mountains, the shortest way is from peak to peak: but for that you must have long legs”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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(somewhere on the road in Gleann Cholm Cille in County Dongeal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I’m sorry.
You should know.
For what good it is, I’m not sure.
Yelling and screaming with the full force of fury– into the nothingness of air…
At you…
You who remain so silent and painfully elusive.

You who are up there, out there, somewhere high above the clouds.

Do you see through those gossamer layers way down here…to me…?
To me who was knocked to my knees in overwhelming frustration?
The me who continues to claim, to speak and hold on to all that is…
all that is of you…
While you continue to remain so oddly distant and so painfully silent.

Persevere,
Forge the path forward
Fight the good fight
Have faith
Be bold
I hear you
I see you
I know you
I will answer you….

Words that trail off into the frustration, the sorrow, the pain, the heartache of all the ages combined…

We have always lived our lives in hopes of being bourn upward and aloft…
To be able to take wing, as the birds, soaring heavenward…
high amongst the peaks, riding the wind while looking down…
Always with the knowledge that ‘up there’ is so much better than down here.
For high up along the tips of those peaks there are no worries nor concerns.
The air is cool, crisp, thin, yet dangerously exhilarating.
The perspective is massive as all the woes and trials of below seem tiny and insignificant.
And it is up among those peaks where you reside…seemingly without me.

Those of us in the valleys far below are constantly looking upward, wondering, wandering, wishing and hoping to be high and up above. The weight of the world does not seem to weigh heavy on the backs of those high above…not as it does on us here below.
Those of us here below who feel the full heaviness of the crushing gravity of every iniquity, every misdeed ever committed…for we are nearly crushed under the weight of all we bear…

Yet it is here, down in the valleys, where the scars are forged and the skin is thickened.
For it is down here in these valleys low, where the trials by fire reside. Where mere mortals are tried and tested true…annealed in the furnace of an ever fallen, broken world.
Hard fought, arduous and painfully endured.
Products of all the damnation that ever was, is or will be…which is found within an imperfect fallen world.

And yet…
It is you and you alone who knows of our yearning and desire to be among the peaks…
You who knows of our desire, dare it be said desperate need, to reside with and where you are. Our hopes and dreams to be bourn aloft and carried far far away from the sufferings, the agony, the mere frustrations endured down here… down within these valleys of our lives.
And it is You….the One who sees, the One who knows and the One who longs to have us up, among the clouds with You…where the weight of all that is…is simply no more…

And so He comes…

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn…

Isaiah 61: 1-2

Hunter or hunted

“He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survive.”
― Jack London

“Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.”
Lord Byron

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(a coyote crouches in search of his breakfast / Cades Cove, Tn / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(wild mountain turkey / Cades Cove, Tn / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

There is one who waits hidden…
Crouching in the high grass…
Searching
Seeking
Watching
Waiting…
All with the greatest of patience

He waits for those who will hesitate, waffle, waiver, slip and fall.
Waiting patiently to devour those he can snap up when they least expect his attack.

Yet Hope has left an escape…
For there is one who has offered to take on the role of decoy and prey.
He affords us the opportunity of time and escape.. the ability to thwart the imminent attack.

Sadly there are those who are not interested in this selfless offer,
preferring to go it alone…on their own way… or worse…
choosing to simply ignore and disregard the inevitable attack.

Stealth is not on our side.
Time is questionable.
Escape improbable..

Unless, there is a sacrificial lamb…
And thankfully…
there is…

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(a sheep rests on the shoreline cliffs of Gleann Cholm Cille, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD, “and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.
Jeremiah 16:16

Oh but to glimpse a mere wisp of your Being

“…My unassisted heart is barren clay,
Which of its native self can nothing feed:
Of good and pious works Thou art the seed,
Which quickens only where Thou say’st it may;
Unless Thou show to us Thine own true way,
No man can find it: Father! Thou must lead….”

Excerpt from Michaelangelo’s sonnet,
To the Supreme Being
as translated by William Wordsworth

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(looking off the shoreline cliffs of Gleann Cholm Cille out to the mighty northern Atlantic, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015–a picture which cannot do justice to the sheer overwhelming and endless and uncontainable landscape which is this island Nation)

If we are fortunate enough, perhaps attuned enough, aware enough, enlightened enough, still enough, quiet enough, open enough, low enough, sad enough, hurting enough, joyful enough, mad enough, young enough, old enough, happy enough, skeptical enough, believe enough, doubt enough, love enough…
At some point during our lifetime we may actually find ourselves coming close within the very proximity of the sacred space of the very presence of the Divine.

“Oh rubbish” you incredulously scoff.
“For none of us are so worthy….
None of us so believe…
None of us so care…
That is stuff of mere legends and fairytales..
Gobblety gook of the weak-minded and illogical.”

Yet it happens.

Each and everyday, all over this planet, it happens.
God, The Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is felt, known, heard and or glimpsed.

And for those who have caught that rare and mystical glimpse of His Wonder, the resulting impression is palpably consuming.

To you my friend, this may all sound like mere poppycock and the stuff of mythes and fables, but to those who have bushed against such a Force, the moment was indeed very real, very overwhelming, very moving and dare we say, life changing….

Receptivity.

The idea or concept of our being open and willing to receive.

A.W. Tozer so skillfully explains this notion:
Receptivity is not a single thing; it is a compound rather, a blending of several elements within the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward, a sympathetic response to, a desire to have. From this it may be gathered that is can be present in degrees, that we may have little or more or less, depending upon the individual. It may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon us as seizure from above. It is a gift of God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if it is to realize the purpose for which it was given.
…Let us say it again: The Universal Presence is a fact. God is here. The whole universe is alive with His life. And He is no strange or foreign God, but the familiar Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whose love has for these thousands of years enfolded the sinful race of men. And always He is trying to get our attention, to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us. We have within us the ability to know Him if we will but respond to His overtures. (And this we call pursuing God!)”

For some of the receptive mortals among us, it comes from the simple lyrics of a song.
For others it is a passage from a book, a poem, a story…
Still for others it is a view, a sound, a slight touch of the arm…

It is however, whatever it may be, that which reaches down into a place that was thought to be impenetrable.
Down into a heart sealed off long ago to such “nonsense” and idle “feelings” of weakness and imagination.

I’ve known such a passing moment.
It has stopped me dead in my tracks and breeched the thick stone wall of my heart–
the one that was sealed from unnecessary hurt, disappointment, and disillusion.
The unworthy vessel which is full of the stuff of self centeredness, loathing and rebellion.
The wounded spirit of the abandoned baby who has spent a lifetime quieting the yearning need of being unconditionally loved, held and forever healed.

And for each time I have bushed near IT’s presence, the presence of the Holy, I AM, as IT passes by my mortal being, I am consumed but for a nano second in time. Everything and everyone stands still in that moment which is less than a breath or the beat of a heart.
Yet it is known and it is real…

Excerpt lyrics from the song The Calling
by Aaron Kamin and Alex Band

If I could, then I would,
I’ll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low, I’ll go wherever you will go

And maybe, I’ll find out
A way to make it back someday
To watch you…..

Run away with my heart
Run away with my hope
Run away with my love