25 April 2012

This Lump of Clay

Two things are mostly responsible for this post: First, an abundance of time has given me the opportunity to read. I love reading! I was explaining to my daughter how I used to go to bed with stacks of books around me. True story. I've been boasting to my daughter- I've read 6 books in 7 days...how's your reading going? For her, its a little competition to get her to pay attention & focus on her reading. For me, its a great opportunity for my mind to uncurl from the fetal position and stretch heavenward. Hurray for thinking!

The second impetus behind this entry is a quote I heard on NPR. Its not available in print, yet, so I won't quote it exactly or give the exact source just yet (I promise to update!). But the quote went something like this, "We are all born in a place on this earth, and from that springs what we are made of. Are you made of stony clay or soft, pliable clay?"

And the wheels haven't stopped turning since. I know who I am, and where I come from- both spiritually and physically. But I the thought of what I am made of, what materials would define me and my earthly existence, has made me dig deep and give pause.

From New Jersey, and perhaps from my English & Irish ancestors, I am a vital loam. I remember the first time I read that word- loam. I had never heard of it before. It is a type of soil which contains sand, silt and clay in specific proportions. Loam is ideal for agriculture because it provides much needed nutrients and yet is able to drain away excess water. It is a care-giver to plant life. New Jersey is, after all, the Garden State. We have beautiful soil which grows, quite possibly, some of the best tomatoes and corn in the world. Grass is green and rich this time of year. The air is humid and soft. The land provides life and abundance.

There is a part of me which is an amalgam of my current life and my Basque heritage. The Basque people are greatly misunderstood (that's another conversation entirely). They come from a mountainous region between Spain and France. The land was thought to be too steep and inhospitable to the French and the Spanish, but it suited the stubborn Basque people. They loved the tough earth which could be tilled with great efforts. They loved the stony paths and the lush mountainsides where their sheep grazed under careful watch. Wars were fought, lost and won, on either side of the Basque territories- never within. The rugged and beautiful landscape was used only as a pathway between the 2 areas by invading forces. The Basque people, coupled with their land, were that formidable, that indomitable. The land was strong, resilient, yet few understood its inherent hardiness.

The clay I am made of is rich & generous, meant to nourish others. There is a congenital flinty component to my makeup which serves as a ward & protection. As I put these words to form, I feel better- as if knowing what I am formed of, I might better understand how and what I can endure, what I can offer. Now ask yourself, what clay are you made of...?

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