Okay, so this one is clearly a ramble… Last week my wife had what looked like the beginnings of a cold. I jumped into action–Super Husband away! I ran to the store, thought through my rambling brain for something that would make my wife feel better, and got stuck somewhere around the idea that chicken soup always made me feel better.
The problem was that I didn’t have any chicken bones or carcasses to make broth. I decided to grab some beef bones and make some broth. A quick internet search showed me that the only other thing I didn’t have in my pantry for a healthy bone broth was parsley, Neck bones, marrow bones, and parsley in hand, I went back home to work on this recipe from WellnessMama.
I didn’t read the directions. Two days of simmering in a stock pot. Our house smelled amazing for the morning of the first day. By dinnertime I was beginning to get a little tired of the smell, especially since Kayti was feeling better already… On the morning of the second day I thought I’d never get the smell out of my nose again. I let it cool a bit, refrigerated some, and froze the rest.
On the third day after I had resigned myself to smelling it again I made my wife French-Onion Soup using the bone broth. It was light and delicious. Last night I made some jasmine rice with the bone broth. It was so delicious and flavorful. I seriously cannot begin to express how amazing the broth turned out and how very glad I was that made the bone broth. It seemed like it took forever, but when it was done it was fantastic.
I’ve looked at those bones in the supermarket so many times and thought “Who buys these things?” I often look for boneless meat because I don’t want the hassle of pulling out the bones and getting rid of them. I cannot begin to describe how moist, fragrant, and delicious the jasmine rice was that I made in that broth.
My revelation about the bone broth reminds me of a story from scripture. This is from Jeremiah 18:1-6: (NRSV)
“The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
My experience of this passage is very much like my experience with beef bones. When I was in middle school we moved to Grand Island, NY. Our backyard was lush and green…for about 4 inches. Below the 4 inches of topsoil was clay. Heavy, heavy, impossible to dig-through clay. Whenever my dad wanted to work on an outdoor project below the surface the clay became the bane of my existence. Planting trees was nightmarish. Putting in stone landscaping was abominable. I hated clay with a passion I had for no other mineral except for that sand that got in my swim trunks at summer camp.
Shortly after marriage my wife and I had a child. We didn’t get out much, but one of the things we did to spend time together was going on a date to a pottery painting place in Rochester. The hated clay was there, but it was pre-shaped into wonderful shapes. We painted, we doodled, we played with brushes and shapes… The hated clay became a beautiful cross that hangs with a place of pride in my house. Here it is!
I know it doesn’t seem like the most beautiful thing in the world to many of you, but to me this bit of once miserable clay is beautiful. The three colors represent not only the trinity, but also my family. I love orange, so I saw myself on the bottom. My wife loved darker red, so I saw her up on the right. Green was a beautiful living color and represented our child to me. In the middle the colors mingled making one funky shape filled family. The hated clay of my childhood was transformed into something that still touches my heart in a special place.
Israel was being judged in this section of scripture. There is no question in my mind that Israel was not being built up by this imagery. The clay of the nation of Israel was going to be reshaped regardless of their opinion. All of that being said, as someone who reads in the midst of a different kind of exile (as a Christian in the midst of a chaotic world), I find comfort in the idea that God can work in the midst of my odd, sometimes dry clay. It might not be easy, but God can do beautiful things even in the midst of a world of ruined pots, wildly whipping wheels, and flying clay.
My prayer is that God might use my weird clay to make something beautiful in this world. My prayer is that God might take the bones I can offer and use them to make something glorious, light, beautiful, and life-giving to the world. My prayer is that I might not just see the broken nature of the world but might also see where the divine is at work in the clay.
May God work in the clay that you see in the mirror and help you to be rebuilt into something amazing. May God take your bones (even the broken ones) and make something life-giving out of your journey on earth.