Belonging Even If It Only Lasts a Week

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

If you asked me how I spent my summer vacation, I would talk about it for an hour nonstop. But I’m sure you could use that hour on something else.

As most of you know I have been an aspiring potter for over 20 years and have gained a certain expertise and quality to my work. In order to learn more technique and have the chance to talk to other potters, I spent a week at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN.  It is an exceptionally good school and students come from all over the USA to attend.

To say I learned a lot would be an understatement, I think, and I hope the experience will change the direction of my work, the look and feel of what I make.  Stay tuned.

But just as important, perhaps more importantly, I came away with a deeper appreciation for the nature of community and a sense of belonging to something larger than myself, larger than my own work. Spending a week with other potters and other art makers expanded my sense of forming community, even for a short time to explore a common language and passion for making art. Folks there knew what I meant when I said that I fire in a cone 6 oxidation and that I wanted to learn how to dart and alter my work.  They got it, and I got them when they talked about underglazes, clay’s joys, its frustrations, risks, and rewards.

The point is that we all belong to something, someone, and someplace. Belonging is a complex but basic human need and desire. Belonging to someone or something gives us a place in the world. Belonging is a desire to be one with another, to bond, to bear one another’s burdens and share each other’s joys. It is shared meaning, shared language, and shared hope. It is crossing a boundary and finding a home.

Belonging is a fundamental human need and emotion, and in our present climate, belonging needs to extend to everyone, especially those who are different from ourselves. Belonging invites welcome, it is founded on acceptance. Belonging is rooted in the Gospel invitation of Jesus to make our home in Him. When we celebrate this gift, this invitation to make our home in God, then everyone belongs.

During the weeklong class the instructor, Kristen Kieffer, was a superb teacher eager to share her knowledge and experience. The other students, all accomplished in one form or another shared their experiences and yes, their failures. I found two friends Kelly and Carol, who shared the table with me for meals and we laughed about eating too much dessert and the sometimes quirky and unpredictable nature of clay.

The workshop ended with a show and tell of our own work that gave everyone an appreciation of each other’s way with clay. When I left Arrowmont, I felt like I belonged, not just for a week’s vacation/workshop, but to a beautiful community of art makers who readily shared what they have and who readily receive what I have to offer. Even if just for a week, potters form a community where everyone belongs. Differences are celebrated, failures are acknowledged and beauty feeds the soul.

Could it be that art will heal the world? Yes, I think so, at least a part of it.

Posted in Weekly Word

15 responses to “Belonging Even If It Only Lasts a Week

  1. Dear Anne: Your work mirrors your soulful message of Love. The heavens are telling the glories of God in the glaze and glow if your bowl. May your journey in art continue to reveal such understanding as you release these gifts if learning and gracious blessing to the community.

  2. Sister,
    Hopefully we’ll get together to discuss your vacation before the sale. All’s well in Elkins Park.

  3. Hi Anne,
    So glad you’re up to something creative and wonderful. Would love to connect if you’re ever back in the Philly area.
    All the best,
    Chris Hearn

    1. Hey Chris! Nice to hear from you. This class was a wonderful experience, Clay has been a passion for a long time and I love it. Hope you are good. Go Eagles! Thanks for your note. Anne

  4. Thanks Ann, love your blogs and how you so beautifully connect your faith life, your art and the ordinary.
    Keep on keeping on.

  5. Art and beauty are important for worship as well as for healing. Your lovely art can bring about transformation on many levels, Anne!! Thanks for sharing it!

  6. Thanks, Anne! I always enjoy your blogs!! And I love the bowl you made – especially the color! Keep up the good work.

  7. For those like myself who do not fire in cone 6 oxidation, but do love and appreciate creative reflections such as yours on belonging…thank you, Anne

  8. I do believe that beauty does heal – thank you for creating and sharing that beauty. Your also are a beautiful act of art. Thank you!

  9. Anne, thank you for sharing your experience of your
    pottery week. You must be excellent in your pottery.
    I remember when you had a pottery display in PA.
    a few years ago. I recall you won first place with
    your pottery. I am happy you are keeping up your
    gift of pottery.

    Well Done Anne! I remember when you won a Prize
    in a display in Penna. Would love to see you put your
    pottery in a display again.

    Congratulations on your pottery.

  10. Though engaging in one’s art can be a solitary experience, the whole point is to engage the receiver of that work. Thanks for reminding artists of all sorts that the community of artists is a particularly supportive guild of folks.

  11. It has encouraged me to find a place where I might expand my knowledge, desire, and creativity to further my water coloring greeting cards.

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