This is the lid of one of the funeral urns I am making for a show at Edge Gallery next month. The vessel holds cremains (the remains from cremation – c-remains) until they can be disposed of in the earth.
In our liturgy we say, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. We mark people with ashes and say that we will return to ashes – to the earth.
The slice of stone on the top of all of my lidded vessels is a nod to the earth from which clay comes. Clay is just rock bits combined with dead things – leaves, animals – and then scooped up after thousands or millions of years.
My spiritual director asked me yesterday “What is dying in you that needs to die right now?” and it is a great question for a all of us. As fall colors remind us of the life and death cycles of the planet an of nature, we see bright reds and yellows signaling a kind of death in the trees around us and it begs this question on a planetary level. What is dying within us that needs to die?
We too often see life as success and death as failure. But deaths occur every second in our bodies. Every seven years our entire body has been replaced – dead cells have been metabolized to allow for new, living cells to take their place.
What has died in me? Envies? Regrets? Grudges? Resentments?
Through the prism of the light which illuminates a stone on a potter’s cremation urn, the mystery is undeniable. There is a lot out there that dies. And there is a lot in me that dies. The question is this: am I taking the time to notice, mourn the loss and let go so that my open hands may be able to take hold of what is next alive?