Fiery Furnace

People talk about a lot of things. Over a hundred ways to speak it, over a thousand decisions to make – whether to listen or not, and over a million subjects to share. One of the million things that has caught my attention, is working with clay and how to play with fire. For almost eight years now, I am still hooked to watching people form clay, and observe how a kiln reacts with fire.

Last night, I attended a gathering of Philippine Potters. Some of them shared their experiences, from their recent pottery trips abroad and kiln building techniques. I saw the fire in their eyes as they talk about their passion.

Inner fire or a great passion for something keeps a person going. But seeing flames and feeling the heat of a roaring kiln makes me tremble. It never fails everytime I fire my kiln, or the kiln in the University, where I assist every now and then. As I gather wood, and as I stoke, excitement fills my bones. It somehow brings back the fire that was once lost in me: To keep living. Fire encourages me in so many ways.

As the temperature rises, I look forward to opening the kiln the next day, after it has cooled down. And yes, I love the smell of a freshly fired kiln. Opening it brick by brick, still feeling its warmth. Sometimes I forget to wear protective gloves, and not caring at all if the dirt, or marks of fire that seeped through the peep holes have stained my hands and clothes.

Some say it’s a man’s job to be a potter. It’s never about gender. It’s about the fire that burns inside. What burns in me is encouragement. Not task, not just the craft or art of pottery making. It’s how the clay ministers to me, and how the fire communicates with me.

Fire is hot. Fire hurts. It can kill and destroy. But it also gives birth to beautiful creations. Inner and outer beauty.  If only pots could talk, it could have been a hellish scene being inside the fiery furnace. But could it possibly be the opposite?

What burns in me now, may be gone tomorrow. But it can only die down, when I myself will turn to ashes…

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