Clay Bowls and Choices

Note: I was invited to a gathering called The Power of Listening Through Food and Ceramics. The friend who invited me created the event and was inspired to make the bowls and to feed people while offering heartfelt communication through music, words, etc. Unable to attend, this is my offering to his kind thoughtfulness. Thank you, Jeremi.

 Today you have been given a gift, but it is only a gift if you recognize it as such. You have been given a bowl, nourishing food and an offer to feel what is in the depths of your being… And I would suggest to you that this is a gift that is given every day… And while this bowl is special and a gift and you might say it is the reason we are here, the question we must ask ourselves is this, “What will we put into our bowl?”

This is the question we ask and try to have answered every day, sometimes consciously, sometimes not so.

For a moment, let us accept that we are the bowl. The often-cited biblical quote, “Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return” is a fact and a reminder of part of our origin, but only part. We are this lump of clay molded into a receptacle. We are, if you will, the beggar’s bowl. And every day, every moment we are asking something to come into the bowl, to come into us. We want love, we want approval, we want compensation, we want recognition, we want happiness… We want what is available to us, and sometimes that which is not…

Choices. We have been given also the ability to choose. What will we put into this bowl that has been given? Choose consciously and remember you can empty what is in the bowl if you do not want it there…

And that is the distinction between needs and wants. Our bowl is meant to hold our needs. What are the things that are our needs? Food, water, air and I will ask you to consider one more thing that we all need and we all hope for – the need to feel peace.

This is where listening comes in. We have been told of and understand our humanity and our need to be humble. We are of the earth, we have needs and we are finite. But there is something else dancing within us that is not bound to the earth. Inside of us, if we listen, is peace.

Let’s turn for a moment to the making of the bowl on the potter’s wheel. This is an anecdote that I heard a long time ago and it continues to teach me. The potter’s wheel spins round and round and as the lump of clay sits in the middle, two very distinct actions take place. The potter’s one hand is inside the clay stabilizing and guiding it. While the other hand is applying pressure to the outside, bending it, shaping it, sometimes slapping it into shape.

It is wise to know the potter’s hands. It is good to know and to trust that hand that holds from within. And it is possible to do so. It begins with listening…

There are undeniable truths, which can be felt but not easily spoken. In the end, I want to feel peace. I want my bowl to be filled and overflowing, and if in that others can be fed, I am grateful.


I first heard the anecdote of the potter’s wheel from Prem Rawat. At a very young age I began to listen to my heart and my heart directed me to his words of peace and that has made the difference for me.

Thanks again to my friend for his invitation to consider the importance of listening in our lives.

The photo is one of the beautiful bowls Jeremi Zuba made for the event and it is his photo.

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