Töpfer

IMG_1483“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

IMG_1479It starts to rain on Sunday afternoon, as we weave our way through the quiet crowds and costly tables. The Kandern Töpfermarkt, a pottery fair that takes place two weeks after the raucous and delicious Budenfest, is in town this weekend. From all over Europe, potters and ceramicists have brought their wares, filling our Blumenplatz with tables laden with cups, bowls, pitchers, and lamps of every color, shape and size imaginable.

This is my fourth year at the pottery market. My first year, I missed it because of a trip to Austria, but every year since I’ve returned, a pleasant ritual that marks autumn in Kandern. I remember the first time, coming down with Emily after a hike in the forest, late summer still pouring light and warmth into the little square. We wandered around, bent on purchasing the perfect cup, deciding after much deliberation to purchase tall, cylindrical mugs in blue and beige. That same year, a handsome new RA I barely knew bought himself a green mug, declared it the perfect one, and suggested that we have coffee and compare purchases. Today, I poured coffee into that same green mug and passed it to him across the breakfast table.

IMG_1475As we circle the market, I realize that it’s laced with all sorts of memories now. I see the orange and brown plates that Alyssa used to collect, or the blue and yellow mug whose older brother sat on Becky’s desk. I pass baskets holding cups that my three roommates and I have bought in earlier years, mugs that smiled down from cabinets and shelves, waiting for tea or coffee, waiting for the evenings when they’d all be used. Everywhere I look, familiar patterns, colors and forms stand out, recalling people and occasions when I’ve seen them before. It’s a fragile hall of visual echoes, a parade of memories in ceramic form.

This little market–a traveling event that visits us each September–embodies the community we’ve found here over the last four years. This is my fifth fall in Kandern, and this place has become home. It isn’t perfect, full of the same flaws and worries that I’ve found everywhere else, that I’ve brought everywhere else. And yet I’m thankful, struck in an overwhelming sense that God has created something beautiful around me over the last four years.

IMG_1488We’re beginning our last year in Kandern, at least for a while, and we don’t yet know what happens next. It could be that this next year is an intermission between two long acts in our green valley. Or we might be in the final movement of Kandern life, poised to begin something new, in a fresh new place. We wait, we pray, we listen, hoping for guidance in our next steps. Perhaps it should be agonizing or frightening, but it isn’t.

Because I can look around this pottery market and see what God has done here, with us, over the last four years. I can see dinners with friends, coffee with students, hikes in the forest and conversations in the classroom. I see my students coming in early on winter mornings to make tea before first period, cupping their hands around steaming mugs as we read Whitman, Twain, Fitzgerald. It’s all so much more than I expected, more than I even asked for. With God, it seems what He gives me is always more, better. I can’t see the next home yet, over the high, green pass of June 2015, but I know that God walks before us, making a way, reminding me that the view is glorious if I’ll keep following Him. It’s likely that next September won’t include the Kandern Töpfermarkt, but for today I’m thankful, looking back at what He’s done, ahead in the knowledge that He’s with us.

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