Intimate, Messy, Hard, Joyful, and Satisfying: a Sacred Pauses Interview

I was delighted to receive the following guest post from RevGalBlogPal Deborah Lewis, who is a campus minister, writer, and potter living in Virginia. She blogs at Snow Day, and her love of rainy days and snow days is very much related to time to pause.

What is one example of sacred pause from your own experience?

Two years ago I sat down at a pottery wheel and lost all track of time. I don’t mean time flew because I was having fun, and I don’t mean I thought it was a certain time and was then surprised to see the actual time. I mean I had no idea what time it was, or how much time had passed, and I was a little confused about what day it was, too. I thought the clock on the wall was broken. I suspected I was a little bit healed. It was like a bath for my soul. // Big day pottery © 2011 Deborah Lewis
Big day pottery © 2011 Deborah Lewis

Since that first night there has been a sacred aspect to the time I spend making pottery. A door opened, and now I know the way back in. It’s a place and a practice I can immerse myself in.

Any sustained focus can be time-blurring. Deep attention is rewarded this way. Being present to the clay on the wheel grounds me and—though there is mental concentration and artistic vision involved—it drops me out of my head and into my centre.  I reckon with the fact that I am embodied, created by a Potter who forms me with loving intention and attention. I know how intimate, messy, hard, joyful, and satisfying it can be to work with clay, and this insight opens the door to a fresh experience of God as my constantly-creating, hands-on Maker.

What are you still learning?

My pottery class is a weekly sacred pause, made more so by the 40 minute drive and fading cell service en route. I’m simply not accessible or available to anything else during that time. It’s a touchstone in my week but the longer I practice, the more I recognize that I need this daily. I tend to “save up” for weekly or seasonal pauses, breezing past the opportunities for daily respite and re-creation. Given the embodied nature of being a potter, I have a hunch I need something tangible like walking meditation to keep that head-to-centre pathway flowing. // Swirly mug © 2012 Woody Sherman
Swirly mug © 2012 Woody Sherman

I also love your idea of keeping the china set on your desk at home to remind you of sacred pause. I may borrow that and keep a favorite pot or two in a visible place where I work, to remind me to pause in the midst of it all.

What word of encouragement would you give to others?

Before I became a potter, I mostly imagined throwing on the wheel. I didn’t know or think about the other parts in the long process (trimming, firing, glazing, firing again) from lump of clay to finished product. Now I keep company with the clay throughout the long while it takes to become what it will be, and I think about how impatient we sometimes are to “get there.” // Birds eye bowls © 2012 Woody Sherman
Birds eye bowls © 2012 Woody Sherman

Remember that it takes a long time to be made. You have to respond to the Maker’s hand, changing shape, allowing yourself to be smoothed out. You have to let the thick, unshapely parts be trimmed away so that what’s there underneath can show up and take form. You have to be hardened through the passage of time and by fire. And God keeps you company the whole while.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: What sacred pause helps you experience God as your “constantly-creating, hands-on Maker”?


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2 thoughts on “Intimate, Messy, Hard, Joyful, and Satisfying: a Sacred Pauses Interview

  1. Thanks for this, Deborah (and April). As someone who often struggles with impatience to “get there,” I appreciate your reminder that it takes a long time to be made. Fast typically gets the better of slow in today’s world, but our best work (like God’s) is formed at length, with many pauses along the way.

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