Monday, November 7, 2011

Sweet, Refreshing Waters from Clay Jars

One of my favorite childhood games was to play house. I miss the feeling of being cozy inside a miniature "house" with all the miniature home appliances, furniture, and the tiny toys we played with. Those miniature appliances and furniture were not the "real" stuff which kids can buy from toy stores these days. We made and built our own. They were made out of scrap wood, twigs, cardboard, newspaper, old plastic containers and tin cans, held together by rubber bands and strings.

I didn't play much with dolls when I was a kid but I do remember playing with my toy pots and pans, kitchen utensils and cooking wares. My favorites were the tiny cooking pots and pans made from terra cotta clay. They were just too cute and so adorable. I still remember how smooth they felt in my hand, how tiny they were yet the details and the similarities to the real thing were so amazing. I can actually cook with them using real fire we made with match sticks, paper and wood. I just had to dice up the "meat and vegetables" really tiny so it would fit into the tiny pots. And what are those "meat and veggies" you may ask? They were only make-believe. They were plants, leaves, flowers, stems, roots, grass, soil and pebbles we took from Mama's garden.

For some reason, clay pots for cooking are not very popular here in the States. When we say clay pots here, it usually means the ones used for gardening, like the flower pots. And if ever this cooking ware is available here, they are too expensive that most people can't afford them anyway. But cooking in clay pots is still one of the most popular choices in many parts of the world including the Philippines. These earthen wares are readily available everywhere in that country and they are not expensive at all. The fact that the good quality ones also last for a long, long time makes it even more a worthwhile purchase.

When I was younger, I used to visit my "Lola" (grandmother) in the province. Me and my brothers stayed with her during the summer months and what a grand vacation it always was! Those were some of the great days of my childhood. We were spoiled rotten by our grandma, grandaunts and cousins. Summertime spent in the countryside are the best. One of my cherished memories from those vacations with Lola is what I call now as the "lesson of the clay pot." Allow me to share with you that lesson:

On those summer vacations although we were spoiled by everyone, my brothers and I were still not exempt from doing a few household chores. One of my chores was to help my grandaunt fill-up the "daba" (palayok) or clay jar for drinking water. Thirty years ago, a faucet with clean, running water was unheard of in most parts of the Philippines. We had water wells and manual pumps from where we fetch our water for daily use. In some places, they have lakes and rivers where they do their laundry and all sorts of washing. In the big cities, there may be the chlorinated, running water from the faucet but I remember it was always a battle to fill-up even just a small pail. And I heard that it's still a battle up to now.

Anyway, I digressed. The clay jar I used to fill-up with water was in my grandaunt's kitchen. I remember asking her why we had to fill it up with water when we can just fill-up all the pitchers we had in the house? She explained that clay pots are the best water storage, ever. It makes water sparklingly cool in the summer when ice or refrigeration were hard to get by. And also it makes the water sweet-tasting, she said. As a child, that was pure magic to me. Cool, sweet, sparkling water without refrigeration? It's a miracle! As God is my witness, all she said is true. Water from clay pots are indeed refreshingly cool and sweet. It's one of the magical things I miss from my childhood.

Another fact I've learned about clay pots was that they leak. Clay is a porous material and so it's just natural for water to seep out in any way it can. That's why most of the clay pots available now in the market are most likely to be coated with some kind of a sealant to prevent the seepage. But I remember Lola telling me that this was "unnatural" and it may not be good for our health. We never know what type of sealant people apply on those pots. So we only used the natural ones regardless of the leak. We just place a basin under it and we continue to refill it everyday with fresh supply of water.

The lesson of the clay pot did not stop there. It continued on as I grew older.

"O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." -Isaiah 64:8 

"O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" -Romans 9:20-24

In some of my Bible readings and quiet time with the Lord, He showed me additional "lessons of the clay pot." The Bible says that God is the Potter and we are the clay. He can mold us and use us for His purpose and glory if we only let Him. And just like the clay jars my family used to store water, humans also can't hold much "water" for long periods of time. We leak so bad. That's why we need the Holy Spirit to fill us up with His teachings from the Word everyday. We need to read the Bible to replenish the seepage that happens from our hearts and our souls. Since we are the clay, we need the Potter to mold us into the likeness of His own Son's character little by little each day. And for Him to fill us up with new supply of His tender mercies every morning.

We are just lowly clay pots in the hands of God and we can choose to remain empty and useless for the rest of our lives, just sitting in one corner being pretty like all the decorative ceramic jars available in home furnishings stores. Or, we can choose to be useful and be filled up for "cooking and storage." As we allow God to fill and re-fill us with His wisdom and power through the Holy Spirit, I'm sure we will produce sparkling, refreshing, sweet waters in His perfect time. It is my prayer that as God's "sweetened water" that I will be a blessing to others as He chooses.


  1. I'm always fascinated with the cultural differences you apply between your two countries. I'm not sure that I have ever had anything cooked in a clay pot, and pretty sure I've never had a drink from one. I love your application--"we leak so bad"--isn't that the truth?

  2. I love both of my "home" countries. They are awesome in different ways. God is so creative on how He gives blessings through various cultures & how specific His attention is for every particular group of people. It shows that He does care & He gives special attention to each & every nation separately.
    Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. May God bless always...

  3. I really enjoyed this post Mara; it was very refreshing! Seriously, we are vessels and we can be filled up with rubbish and what is irrelevant, or we can be filled up with God's Spirit and love, peace and compassion; there's no contest really is there?

  4. Hey Tim!
    I'm glad you liked it. It's one of the great lessons from my childhood that I can never forget & which I love sharing to those who are willing to listen.
    Thanks for visit! Happy Thanksgiving from America! =)

  5. Great post. I want to be a pot that is used! I followed you over from twitter and am glad I did.

  6. Thank you Shanda for visiting my blog site. And thanks for reading! God bless you always...


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