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birdback

With both hands, I cup the body of Mama Bird with her cracked, broken wings, and apply gentle pressure.  Kneading and smoothing.  Adding and taking away.  These wings, each lovingly shaped and adorned with small flowers, sat for a few weeks too long, wrapped in wet rags and sitting in a black garbage bag.   When I finally get around to attaching them to  Mama Bird’s body, the wings have started to dry and crack into pieces as I lift them from their solitary perches.  Wings left unused become frail and brittle.

Sensing the panic welling up inside me, my art teacher declares,  “You need to pop those suckers on soon and work from there!  There’s no way to do it gently.”  It is the end of class, so I pack-up the pieces and parts of my bird, once again, in wet rags and lug them home with me so that I can do some emergency repair work.   When I unwrap the clay that next morning, I feel a sense of reverence.  I aim to make this bird whole again.  I can’t help but think, as I hold these broken wings in my hands, that this must be how God feels when He cradles our broken spirits.

The molding process?  It can hurt and it might last longer than we would like.  In the case of Mama Bird, with some work, I am able to put her back together, all in one piece, but her transformation is still not over.  We have glazing issues, where for some odd reason, the “feather white” glaze that I have so carefully chosen, chips-off in tiny pieces when we remove her from the kiln.  Even with repeated glazing and firing at higher temperatures, Mama Bird’s glaze continues to flake-off in places.  For some reason, though, I am okay with it.  Her “shabby chic” exterior speaks to me.  The bare clay peeking through is evidence of Mama Bird’s journey.  Scars of a warrior.

Early on, I had decided to keep the hole open in Mama Bird’s chest where I hollowed her for firing.

birdfront (2)
I imagine a huge spray of colorful flowers flowing from that hollow, spilling forth with beauty.  The tiny little flowers that I fashioned from vintage fabric and wire sit patiently in a block of green foam while Mama Bird undergoes her many transformations.  Now it is time to fill that hollow space.  After playing with flower arrangements and securing the wires with a final dose of resin, I step back from Mama Bird and take a look.  There is still something missing. This mama bird is a warrior.  She needs a crown.

WarriorMamaBird1

To all my fellow warrior mamas out there, I want you to know that it is never too late to repair your wings.  We make mistakes.  We suffer losses and heartaches.  We may even feel so broken that we cannot fly again.  But God, the Master Artist?  He specializes in crafting beauty from our brokenness.

 

 

 

“God lives in my heart.”  My boy earnestly shares this thought with me one day while adding that there is enough room in his heart for God, as well as love for me and the rest of the family.  I smile and wrap my arms around his little body.  My boy is blessed with a pure, loving heart.  His unwavering faith in God sometimes stops me in my own tracks.

Now, I sit with a large chunk of clay in front of me, and think I finally “get” the concept that God dwells within me.  What began as an 8-week journey with the intentions of becoming “unstuck” and learning some art skills, ended-up being much more.  My hands instinctively move over the moist clay.  I have not worked with clay since middle-school and yet it feels so familiar.  It’s supple texture yields easily to the gentle pressure of my fingers.  I mold her chest into a heart and gently smooth the curve of her neck.  Selecting a wooden carving tool, I move-on to carve s-shaped lines along the top and back of her head.  Hair now cascades down her back.  Clay is rolled-out  flat between two rulers, readying it for cutting.  Carefully, I wrap the  crescent-shaped slabs  around her body.  These  “spirit-cloths”  envelope an open-heart.  A whole heart radiating with God’s light.

Nearly an hour and a half later, I step-back and look at my creation.  I am both moved and stunned by the beauty of this experience.  After weeks of painting and creating through a myriad of emotions that came along for the ride, my hands effortlessly molded the surrendering of my spirit.

  … We are the clay, you are the potter;  we are all the work of your hand.   – Isaiah 65:8

I think of this scripture and  imagine God  shaping and molding the spirit that dwells inside me.  Just like the clay that surrenders to the push and pull of the sculptor’s hands, what a beautiful experience it must be for God to shape a surrendered spirit.  A spirit that acknowledges the God within and offers itself-up as a co-creator, trusting that God will form something beautiful, whether it is what we have in mind or not.

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