“Like clay in the hand of a potter, so are you in my hand…”
When we think of a potter, we imagine an artist, someone who is taking clay and crafting something beautiful.
In a sense a parent is a potter, trying to raise a child to be good, honest and truthful. In a sense a teacher is a potter, trying to not only form young minds but also to mold their hearts. Often friends serve as potters, helping one another shape up and be better.
As a potter, what kind of tools can a parent, teacher or friend use? Some use fear, threatening punishment. Some use inspiration, e.g. holding up a saintly grandparent as a good example. Some use knowledge, teaching values. Some share experiences, offering insights. Some use words of encouragement, building up another’s confidence.
One of the best tools a parent, teacher or friend can use, if they want to be a potter, is to lead a child or friend to a deeper spirit of gratitude. There is transforming power in gratitude. That is why our central act of worship is the Holy Mass. At Mass we come to remember, and give thanks. And it is this gratitude that transforms us.
It is a good practice to write down three things you are grateful for at the end of a day. Then tomorrow write down three more things, than the next day write down three more things, and on. Guess what will happen?
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
That sure sounds like transformation to me. God is the potter and we are the clay. God used parents, teachers, friends, and others to assist him in shaping us into living a consistent attitude of gratitude. Then, in turn, we become instruments in leading others in giving thanks. And God’s kingdom becomes more visible – by our smiles.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/