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THE POTTER AND THE CLAY

February 21, 2015

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)

For some time I had wanted to meet Sid Luck, a fifth generation potter from the historic pottery region of Seagrove, North Carolina. I finally met him at a funeral because our sister-in-law Wanda is a cousin to Sid and his kin. Clare and I have several beautiful pottery items given to us as Christmas gifts by Bill and Wanda. They were fashioned from Seagrove clay turned on Sid’s wheel. In his youth Sid Luck learned at the pottery wheels of his father and grandfather. Because a career in pottery seemed unlikely, Sid enlisted and served in the Marine Corps right out of high school. After finishing college, he taught chemistry and science for eighteen years. Throughout his teaching career Sid continued making pottery in his spare time, eventually building a shop onto his property. Sid Luck retired from teaching twenty-five years ago to make pottery full time. In the years since, he has become one of the most prolific and beloved potters in North Carolina. In addition to operating Luck’s Wares six days a week, Sid also finds time to mentor aspiring potters of all ages. Sid is cultivating additional generations of Seagrove potters. His sons Jason and Matt are excellent artists and his young grandchildren have recently become the seventh generation of Luck potters. Sid Luck’s pottery tradition is observed in the shape of many old time functional stoneware pieces such as candle holders, churns, jugs, pitchers, and teapots. Sid digs local clay to use in some of his pottery. One of the wheels he still uses for turning was originally in his father’s shop. A wood-fired groundhog kiln is used to produce salt-glazed pottery similar to that produced many years ago by Luck ancestors. On several occasions I have watched in fascination as a potter threw a lump of wet clay onto the wheel. Then there follows a brief pause as the potter gazes at the formless lump of damp dirt. In the mind’s eye a skilled artist sees what the lump can become, a useful vessel that will be, in the words of John Keats, “A thing of beauty, a joy forever.” To think of God as a potter is to trust the Father to continually mold us and form us according to his plan. One purpose of Lent is to yield to His creative touch and His divine plan. Adelaide A. Pollard was from Iowa. Following her education she moved to Chicago to become a teacher in girls’ schools. Adelaide had a strong desire to be a missionary in Africa. When this plan was not fulfilled, she taught at a Missionary Training School. She finally made it to Africa for a brief period before World War I, but she spent the war years in Scotland. After returning to the United States, she continued her ministry even though she was in poor health. Her unsuccessful attempt to raise funds to make another trip to Africa left her experiencing a “distress of soul.” This crisis in the life of an elderly lady led to personal reflection on the will of God for her life. She wrote this prayerful hymn. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way. Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.

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