A USELESS BIT OF BROKEN POTTERY

“Sometimes we live in God and sometimes God lives in us. These are very different states. When God lives in us, we should abandon ourselves completely to him, but when we live in him, we have to take care to employ every possible means to acheive a complete surrender to him….[W]hen God lives in us, we have nothing to help us beyond the present moment…They who live in God perform countless good works for his glory, but those in whom God lives are often flyng into a corner like a useless bit of broken pottery…Often they have no idea who they will be used, but he knows. The world thinks them useless and it seems as if they are. Yet it is quite certain that by various means adn through hidden channels they pour out spiritual help on people who are often quite unaware of it and of whom they themseles never think.”

–Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence


This of course is me: POURING out spiritual help on people who are not only unaware of it–but who usually it turns out not only don’t need help, but are actually helping me.

No matter–I’ve come back to de Caussade’s classic. And his “bit of broken pottery” reminds me of St. T of Lisieux’s (next time I pick a patron saint, remind me to find one whose first name doesn’t contain both an accent aigu and an accent grave) whole O Jesus just treat me like your plaything, like your little rubber ball that you kick into a corner and forget! thing.

Speaking of diacritical marks, and French saints, have I mentioned that I am devoting ten minues a day to (re-)learning le français? Why, I don’t know, as I have no immediate plants to travel there, nor do I have, say, French friends who are dying to converse with me. But I did take French for all four years of high school and at least one year of college and always enjoyed it except that none of my teachers ever spoke about or taught pronunciation. So I’ve always been dreadfully self-conscious (with good reason) when trying to speak what is clearly a beautiful language.

Also, it’s a good in and of itself to commit, for however few minutes a day, to learning something new.

Tucson is an entirely different place almost in autumn. It is chilly in the mornings and evenings! To don a bathrobe and slippers is an experience I’d not had here, and the other day I turned on the heat for the first time. All of which feels somehow thrilling, as if the city and I are embarking on a whole new relationship.

My favorite part of the day is dusk, when I sit looking out of the French doors to my office watching the leaves darken against the sky.

6 Replies to “A USELESS BIT OF BROKEN POTTERY”

  1. When my grown children send me photos I enjoy looking at the background of the photo. It tells me what they are growing in their garden or what new wallpaper is up in the entry hall. I especially love looking at the shed in my niece’s back yard. She is an artist and highly creative. I’ll try to send the photo to you somehow.
    All that brings me to your yard. I am intrigued by the crib-like enclosure on the left. I suppose it is to keep your plants from being eaten by rabbits and deer. It would also make a splendid stable for a Nativity at Christmas.
    Our relationships with objects can be holy. Think of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who could sense God even in the stones of the Earth.
    And so it is that I am not so sure the pitcher is next. (Although it certainly could be) I think next could be the cloth on the table when the bottoms of the fruit get overripe and soggy and the wine is spilled. I think it has the potential to be a Shroud of Turin.
    And the pitcher is used to clean up the mess with purifying water. A use it would not have imagined for itself. But isn’t that just the way it is for us all.
    🙏 Joyce

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thanks so much, Joyce!–what looks like a crib-like enclosure only looks that way because I shot it from the patio, which is slightly above the back yard…it’s actually a shaded ramada type area with plants, a table and chairs beneath it, ringed as you can see by lantern lights…even so you’re right: it would make a perfect area for a living creche at Christmas…I love your imaginative take on the still-life and what might get “broken” next…and your observation that we never quite imagine the use that Christ is going to make of us, and our individual brokenness (and strengths)…

  2. Anita Hatch-Miller says: Reply

    I am so happy that I signed up for your blog! This is the first one I have received. I enjoyed Joyce’s comments also.
    Bonne chance!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Bienvenue, Anita! And yes, Joyce’s comment: so good…!

  3. Philippe Garmy says: Reply

    Ma chère Heather, venir en France serait pour vous une sorte de pèlerinage béni… et, en plus, vous avez déjà un ami ici qui serait heureux d’accueillir votre temps à Paris où je vis. Vous auriez votre propre chambre et un accès à une grande terrasse ombragée de lauriers et d’arbustes, d’où vous bénéficierez d’une jolie vue sur le Parc de la Villette et le Canal Ourcq….parler français or speaking English is entirely up to you!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Philippe, that is so incredibly kind–thank you! You never know when I might make it over there, and I will surely keep your generous offer in mind. Fun to look up le Parc de la Villette and le Canal Ourcq–meanwhile, I will keep up with my 10-minute lessons–good to know the light is alive in Paris.

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