Clay in the Potter's Hands by Fr. Tavit Boyajian
When I was a child I liked to play with Play-Doh. Play-Doh is basically a non-toxic form of clay-like material for children to use for molding. Being made primarily of flour, water and salt, it was highly malleable and could be made into pretty much any shape a kid could imagine. It was also edible. While it was not a staple of my childhood diet, I did avail myself of the opportunity to sample the delicacy. Its sumptuous bouquet and tantalizing flavor call to mind such culinary terms as ‘bland’, ‘tasteless’, or perhaps even ‘foul.’ Just on the basis of its ingredients however, it would make an excellent Lenten dish.
In order to keep Play-Doh fresh, it came in small re-sealable cylindrical cardboard containers. When first removed from the container it would inevitably be hard to shape. But as one held it, it softened and became workable. Clay shares this property. It also is hard to shape until it is held and warmed. Then gradually it becomes something that can be worked with.
In the Bible, man is likened to clay numerous times. In Jeremiah 18:6 our Lord states, “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand." and in Isaiah 64:4 we read, “O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand.”
Lent is a time to allow God to work with us, to shape our lives, and to fill us with His Divine sweetness. In order for this to happen, first and foremost we simply have to make time to come to Him and to let Him hold us; trusting him completely with a child-like trust. As Armenian Orthodox Christians we have learned from our ancestors that when we open ourselves to being attentive to His words, and sincerely pray the same prayers Armenians have been reciting for generations, we enter His embrace. As we behold God through the Divine liturgical words which describe Him, we feel His light warm us. As we sit with our Lord alone in prayer, opening our hearts to Him and sharing our innermost thoughts and concerns, He beholds us. As we confess our sins, He pulls us close, dries our tears and renews us.
Remember also that Lent is not only a time for us to be transformed by God, but for others to be transformed as well. The best thing we can do in order to prepare others for the transformation God wants to give them is really quite simple. We need to cast God’s love upon them; loving them in their sins, and their struggles. For as they feel the non-judgmental warmth of God’s love coming though us, they will gradually soften; and then God (not us) will remake their lives.
This Lent may you bask in the warm embrace of God. May you feast on the spiritual delicacy of His word; and may you become willing clay in the hands of the Divine Potter.