The banker slid the document across his desk and handed me a pen. “Sign and date on this line.”
I took the pen and signed my first name, Barclay. Then I began with the first syllable of my last name, Mar. Quite unexpectedly, my mind veered from the signature line to imagining the banker’s impatient eyes on this same line. Before I knew it, I had written the second syllable as clay, rather than cell, thus making my name Barclay Marclay.
In pen, on a newly printed document, in a bank lobby.
Did the banker notice? It would be ludicrous to cross out my own last name. So I quickly tried to turn clay into cell. Then I sheepishly slid the document across the desk hoping the smudge on the line was not evidence that this lady had forgotten her own name.
The truth is I have an embarrassing little phobia about signing my name in front of someone.
It’s not the worst phobia in the world. It just means I have to sign my name with intentionality and concentration.
The other truth is that I actually love my name. Especially my first name.
In the Bible God is often pictured as a potter and his people as clay in his hands. So my name reminds me that I am most content when I become that bar of clay. Unfinished and leaning in to the mighty potter’s power.
I have discovered that when my identity is rooted in this Clay-Ness, I experience more peace and joy. My days go far smoother with an attitude of surrender.
And on days with I think more highly of myself than I should, I experience just the opposite — discontent and frustration.
So may we work on staying clay-like and trusting the skilled potter who sees us as nothing short of a sculpture suitable for the Art Institute.
Thank you, God, for being my potter.
With love from your servant, Barclay Marclay.
Check out this 1907 hymn by Adelaide Pollard. based on the potter-clay imagery.