Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Food for Thought

Off to church for the last lap of the costuming; if the crew comes in that I'm expecting I think we'll get done. I'll try to take at least one photo of the finished rack when we're done...

Meantime, for your reading pleasure, I offer the following. Dunno who originally wrote it...I think I first heard it about 15 years ago, and I've heard several variations on it from different folks since then. But it's a cool story...anyway, here's my take on it:

The Teacup Story

Once upon a time, a retired couple was on vacation in rural New England. They were truly enjoying their trip and one day they were poking about in quaint little shops, looking for an interesting trinket to take home as a memento. In one out-of-the way shop, they happened to find a beautiful little teacup, colored a soft blue and exquisitely painted with delicate pink rosebuds. The wife was enchanted, declaring the cup to be the loveliest piece of china she had ever seen. Her husband agreed that it was indeed a rare find, and they asked the clerk if she knew where it came from, or if it was a unique piece or part of a set. The clerk replied that she knew nothing of the teacup, but stated, “I’m sure that it could tell quite a story if it could talk!” The couple both laughed as the husband paid for the teacup. The clerk carefully wrapped it up and they returned to their room at the local inn.

At the inn, the wife couldn’t resist another look at their purchase. She removed the teacup from the box and the tissue paper and set it on the bedside table. It was just as lovely as she had thought in the shop. “I wonder what this little cup would say if it could talk?” she murmured.

Both of them were shocked when the teacup quietly stated, “But I can talk. And I do have a story to tell.”

When they found their voices, the couple both urged the teacup to tell the story. This is what they heard:

I wasn’t always beautiful and lovely like this. When I first became aware of myself, I was a lump of gray clay sitting on the counter in the Potter’s workshop. I looked just like every other lump of clay sitting there…colorless, shapeless, unappealing. But, before long the Potter picked me up and threw me down on this spinning wheel, and I went round and round and round until I thought I was going to be sick. “Please!” I hollered, “Let me off of this thing! I’m getting sick!” But the Potter just smiled and said, “Not yet.”

Then, he stuck his hands in cold water and began to push me and squeeze me and pull me. Now, not only was I sick, but I was hurting! “Ouch!” I yelled, “Don’t do that to me! That HURTS!! STOP!” But the Potter just smiled and said, “Not yet.” He even pulled some chunks off of me, and I cried and I cried, “Oh, stop! Please stop!” But he just kept me spinning and spinning and he was pushing and pulling and I thought I was just going to die…and he stopped.

“Whew!” I thought, glad that was over. The Potter carried me into a little stone room, with lots of other clay pots and cups and bowls and set me on a little shelf. He went in and out of the room a few more times, bringing in other pieces and putting them on the shelf. When the shelves were full, he shut the door and turned the latch. I thought he was going to leave us alone now, but before long the room began to get hot. It got hotter and hotter and hotter and I thought I would die. “Hey!” I yelled, “Get me out of here! I can’t stand this heat!” The Potter came and looked in the little window in the door. “Get me out!” I cried again. But the Potter just smiled and I could read his lips say, “Not yet.” Just when the heat nearly had overcome me completely, it began to be cooler. Slowly we cooled back down, and the next day the Potter came and took us out of the oven. I was set up on another shelf in the workshop. “Boy,” I thought, “I’m glad that’s over now.”

I stayed on the shelf quite a while. Actually, I began to wonder if the Potter had forgotten me. Maybe he didn’t like what I was or he didn’t think I was good enough. He took other pieces down while I sat there and collected dust. I was happy when the Potter finally took me down and carried me over to one of his workbenches. I thought He was about to use me for something, but instead he began to cover me with this cold blue stuff. “Ug!” I said, “This stuff feels icky! Stop that!” But the Potter just smiled and said “Not yet.” When he’d finished, he set me back on the shelf, and the stuff dried and felt tight and I didn’t like it. The next day, he took me down again and began to tickle me with a little bitty brush, smearing on this green and pink stuff. It tickled and tickled and I laughed until I cried, “Stop that! I –ha-ha—can’t stand – ha-ha – it!” But the Potter just smiled and said, “Not yet.” Finally, I went back on the shelf while the new stuff dried. It itched and I couldn’t scratch it and I didn’t like it. I felt very sorry for myself.

But, the next day, the Potter picked me up and took me back to the oven! “NO!” I cried when I saw where we were going. “Don’t put me in there again!” But the Potter just smiled as he set me back on the same little shelf again. “Please don’t leave me in here!” I begged as he shut the door and turned the latch. Sure enough, before long it began to be hot again, and it got hotter and hotter and the air seemed red and the window wavered and I screamed, “Get me out of here!” But the Potter just smiled as he looked through the window, and once again I saw his lips say, “Not yet.” Again, it got so hot that I thought I would die, then it began to cool off. The next day, the Potter took me out and put me back on the shelf in his workshop.

I thought I would surely be able to sit quietly now, but I had barely been there an hour when he pulled me down and began to cover me with some clear stuff that smelled bad and stung me. “Ouch!” I coughed. “Stop that! I can’t breathe!” and I coughed some more. But the Potter just smiled and said, “Not yet.” This time I was afraid of what would happen when the stuff dried, and sure enough, the Potter carried me back to the oven. I cried and I begged, “NO! You can’t do this to me again! I can’t stand it! Please don’t!” He set me on the shelf and I cried some more, “You don’t understand how hot it is in here! If you loved me, you wouldn’t leave me in here! Please, please take me out!” And just before he shut the door, he looked at me. And I was surprised to see that, even though he smiled as he always did, he had tears running down his cheeks as he said, “Not yet,” and turned the latch.

This time the heat was even worse than before. I couldn’t even get breath to call out for help, even if I had thought it would do any good. I knew I was as good as dead, and if the Potter was going to keep doing those awful things to me and putting me in this awful place, then I was going to die of it before long, anyway. I wanted to die and get it over with… but I didn’t. As before, when I had endured more than I ever thought I could endure, the heat lessened and I could breathe again. And, the next day, the Potter came and took me out of the oven. I looked at him and I said, “Well, what torture do you have for me now?”

But, he just smiled at me and set me down on the workbench. I closed my eyes, because I was afraid of what he might do next. But, instead I heard him laugh and say, “Look at yourself now!” and I opened my eyes. He was holding a mirror in front of me, and for the first time since he began working on me I saw myself…and I was beautiful! I couldn’t believe it! I had been ugly and cold and formless, but the Potter made me into the cup you now see before you. All the time I thought he was mistreating me, he was remaking me. Before I was worthless…but he gave me great worth. And I will always love him.

“…Can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so you are in my hand….” Jer. 18: 6


  1. Thanks! It helps to have a reminder that while something may hurt for while, it's probably for our good in the end.

  2. I really needed to read this today - thanks!