On the Beauty and Fragility of Thin Skin

 – Charles LaFond, Potter, and ISR staff member

Once upon a time, in a wooded hamlet, a young potter took her pail into the woods to dig up some clay from a streambed.  Like all clay, it was 250 million years old, with the wisdom of great age and inheritance.  Like all clay, it was made of decaying things, and microscopic flecks of granite wash from rocks eroded by raindrops one at a time. The clay was sticky, dark reddish-brown, and perfect to make a bowl on a pottery wheel.

The potter prepared the clay and threw it onto her spinning wheel with a whack! The cold clay spun beneath her warm hands.  The clay was elastic.  It warmed.  It grew from a spinning lump into a spinning cylinder like a clay ballerina in a tumble of pirouettes.  In time, the ancient fresh clay widened out into a spinning bowl with high, thin walls and graceful curves. The potter was pleased with her new bowl and set it on a high shelf to dry before firing it in her kiln.

Over the next few weeks, all the water evaporated from the clay bowl, and it became very fragile.  For millions of years, the clay had done such a good job making a lovely path for the village streams – bringing water to their wells. Now lady-clay’s job was done.  She had been made into a new thing – a bowl.

The potter was careful when she lifted the dry bowl to the kiln for its final transformation into a glistening blue bowl. It was to be used in the local hospital by nurses cleaning wounds. She lifted the bowl with both cupped hands from the bowl’s bottom to not break the thin clay wall.  Although the bowl was most beautiful in form, it was also most fragile in shape. The bowl was fired with a beautiful blue glaze.  It served the nurses and patients well in a hospital for over 500 years.  It is now in a museum on display, under warm lights and behind security glass; it was and remains a very beautiful bowl.

As we age, we are made of stardust, as are all things on this planet – our island home. We inherit the wisdom and the features of the ages – of death and of life.  We are the containers of light, needed to heal the world. But as we age and become ready for the Ultimate Transition, we become very, very fragile.  Human skin becomes thin.  Human muscles begin to weaken. Bones become brittle.  Memory fades.  And like that drying pot on the potter’s shelf, we must be gently lifted – gently cared for.

That is what we do at Island Senior Resources.  We care for beautiful, fragile vessels deserving of great care, having been of great use in the healing of the world. They deserve great care, for they have served and healed so many along their way.