At risk of being broken.
In college I took a ceramics class. After my teacher harshly criticized our first projects, she directed us to destroy our works. We're doing this, she explained, to learn that your making something doesn't make it precious. She thought we needed to practice--in religious terms--detachment.
For years I kept two beautiful pottery teacups safely in a cupboard. To use them, I feared, would chance breaking them. In time I decided that enjoying them was worth the risk of their destruction. I use one in my studio and the other at school.
At some clumsy moment, I will likely drop them. When that occurs, I hope to remember the pleasure of drinking tea out of them.
No wonder this small tea or wine cup from Korea caught my attention. It has eluded becoming trash for 900 years. Its pleasing shape, lovely crackled celadon glaze, delicate border, and small gold repair make it a striking object. The mend reminds me of its fragility and its survival.
How often do we make ourselves vulnerable, take the risk of being broken? If the fear of hurt keeps us in our cupboards, our concern for safety deprives others of the joy of our magnificence.
By Jerry Bleem, O.F.M., a priest and artist who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.