Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Wake up!

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Feb. 24, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell The alarm sounds. I pull the covers up over my head and snuggle down. I know I should get up. But on Monday mornings my instinct is to stay were it’s warm and cozy. I don’t want to face the routine of making lunches, getting kids off to school, and tackling all the work that I know is waiting for me.

The ring of the alarm clock in the morning is like the call of Lent. It attempts to wake us from our sleep. But the chimes of Lent summon us to more than the routine of life as usual.

Lent is an Old English word meaning springtime. The images of spring burst with the new, the unfolding, the vulnerable having courage to come forth. Spring is a season of throwing off the covers and embracing the new day with a spirit of expectation.

There is a story told by the ancient wise ones about a potter, a man who made pots of clay both beautiful and functional. This potter lived at the center of the village and each day he sat in front of his house and made pots from dawn until dusk. He could form a pot for any purpose, and he prided himself on his fine work. If a customer wanted strength for long cooking, he made a pot that could withstand heat. If they wanted beauty, he merged color and form to please the eye.

But the potter grew weary, and though his reputation grew and his pockets filled with gold, he found that the sun seemed to rise sooner each morning and set later each evening. His days stretched before him filled with pots and more pots, but empty of joy.

The potter put away his wheel, packed provisions in a sack and journeyed afar seeking wisdom. He questioned the wise men of the desert, but found no answers. He queried the wise women of the mountains, but felt no peace. He traveled to the learned of the cities, but understanding escaped him still.

One afternoon as he walked through a poor village he saw a woman dipping water from a well. He stopped for a drink, and he noticed the pot she had filled with water. It was plain and brown, its rim chipped, its pattern faded.

“I’ve used this pot to draw water since my babies were crawling,” the woman told him when she saw that he was looking at it. “Often I had little to give them, but each day I rejoiced in their presence. Now my babies have babies of their own.” As she lifted the pot upon her head, the man spied his signature on the bottom. As the woman turned to carry her water away, the potter turned toward home.

Many years later, one could find him still, sitting in front of his house in the center of the village, turning his wheel and making pots. Some of his wares ended up in palaces, others simply dipped water from the well. Though each pot he made was unique, it would not have mattered to the potter had they all been the same. It was not his work that had changed, it was he. It was grace that slipped through his fingers like clay. It was not his skill, nor his reputation, nor his wealth that gave him life as the sun rose each day. It was awareness that the sun rose, that it traveled the sky, and that it would set, and that he would make pots.

When my alarm goes off each morning, yes, there remains the routine of making lunches, getting kids off to school and piles of work to do, but the call of springtime reminds me that grace unfolds in the layers of my everyday tasks. Grace that beckons me to uncurl with expectation. Amid baskets of laundry, assignments from the boss, bills to pay and kids’ runny noses, God’s presence is fresh and new this spring if only we wake to see it.

© 2005, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children’s writer. Her new children's novel, Fire in the Hole!, is available from Clarion Books.)

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