Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 12, 2008

Earthen Vessels (A Poem)

Earthen Vessels

By Mark Nielsen, Feb. 2006


We are made of the same stuff,

You and I:


(Noble and simple, elemental even)

And Water,

Living Water,

(Not pure, but teeming with life,

The Life that swam around

When Time was an infant –

Felt but not seen ).


Call me Mud Boy. 


The only difference between us

Is that I was molded into a pitcher,

While you are an exceptionally beautiful vase.

I was made for humbler purposes:

To hold water

Or spirits–

To be filled and emptied

At the Potter’s will.

I do not have a lovely design;

Nothing that says “Look at me!”

What matters is what’s in me,

What I can pour out

For you,

And the ones I love.


You, on the other hand,

Were made to shine.

(Though I cannot name you,

For I did not make you.)

A beacon of beauty,

Colorful, balanced,

Reflecting the Potter’s finest craftsmanship

In an often ugly world.

Even without a bouquet of flowers

For you to nurture,

Still you remind us all

Of the joy of creation,

And the glory of Creation.


But let us not forget

That you were once mud,

Like me.

We each have grace and beauty

That is our own,

Our gift.

We were both baked

In the same fire;

Both hardened,

In the oven of severe mercy,

Then checked for cracks,

Lovingly fixed,

Marked with the Master’s thumbprint

And given away

(Never meant to be bought

Or sold).


May we always serve the purpose

For which we were created;

May that always be enough,

And may we never forget:

We are all made of the same stuff.

Inspired by several friends with disabilities, and yet also with tremendous gifts. Poem given as a gift to religious leader & disabilities advocate Jean Vanier, founder of  L’Arche . Vanier is currently working and residing in France, though L’Arche communities exist throughout the world, including one that I support here in Chicago.



  1. Glad for your connection to L’Arche.

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