Potter or Painter

The downtown Austin farmer’s market is joy in a park. Sitting at a table under a tree in 70 degree weather eating pumpkin bread, holding my husband’s hand and watching my daughters dance this Saturday I was reminded once again of God’s touchable love.

As we sat there under the tree, wallowing in love dust, I heard the singer/songwriter guy introduce a song he’d written, a song inspired by a breakup with a girl, a girl who’d left him for a painter. In addition to being a musician, he’s a potter. The song was delightful.

Basically, he challenged her to find as much happiness in a painting as she might in a bowl. He said, will a painting comfort you like a bowl of hot soup. Will a painting feed you?

I loved the thought, and while in the past I’d totally have been the girl who said “Yes. A painting feeds my soul!” I realized in the moment that all I wanted was a bowl.

A painting is beautiful to look at but lonely to live with. It inspires, delights, provokes—all good things. But you don’t cozy up with a painting on the couch. You don’t reach for it when you’re sad. You don’t run your fingers around the rim of it while you make a hard decision. You don’t feed your family with it. You’d never puke on it.

A bowl is ordinary, everyday, familiar. A painting is dramatic, stunning, and other. And if we’re talking men and love, I’d rather have the bowl. Make it a mug. I like a man I can hold, a man who’ll take care of me, a man who’ll live in the ordinary by my side.

Paintings are pretty to look at but delicate, even breakable, smudgable. And they don’t hug back.

Nobody’d ever say that about a mug full of warm chai tea.


Post Script: Sometimes a girl is lucky enough to find a  painted bowl. I’m lucky.