Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. – Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NRSV)
George Ohr called himself the “Mad Potter of Biloxi.” While on a service trip to Back Bay Mission, I visited the museum named for him there, its permanent collection full of incredible pieces that came off his wheel. Clay thrown thin as paper, crumpled and twisted into forms that seem impossible and impossibly contemporary for someone making them in the 1800s.
In those days, no one was naming museums after Ohr. He gave up on pottery 8 years before his death, a commercial failure and a virtual unknown in the art world.
Still, Ohr believed in the vision he’d been given for his pots. He packed up his entire collection and instructed his heirs not to open the crates until he’d been dead for 50 years.
When they did, his work became a sensation. Today you can find it in The Met or in that museum in Biloxi, Mississippi, with his name on it.
I envy Ohr’s certainty. And Habbakuk’s. The prophet’s assurance that can say, “There is still a vision for the appointed time.”
I envy the courage it takes to make something good and let the world catch up. To trust that the world will catch up.
But the proof is there, made plain in clay, for anyone to read. A testament to the potter.
If the vision is true, its time will come. Surely.
Potter, make of me something beautiful and useful.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.