Treasure in the Clay Pot

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell


Leslie had the next 5 years planned out.

She had quit the large law firm in order to stay home with her kids. Her plan was to eventually move into flexible part time practice for more time home and less pressure to make billable hours.

Leslie was an organized woman. Vacations and visits to relatives were scheduled in advance. Babysitters and grandparents were on call to help as needed. Her house was clean and orderly, even with young kids. She volunteered, gave money to good causes, and had good friends.

Leslie felt competent and in control much of the time. This was very important to her. Like any young mother she was sleep deprived, but things were working out well and she had a strong belief that with correct planning, life would get better and better.

And then one day, she discovered a lump in her breast.

You can guess where this is headed…

To put it bluntly, all of Leslie’s expectations came to a grinding halt and things changed forever.

Though she had good insurance and lots of support from family and community, it was still excruciatingly difficult to undergo aggressive medical treatments for the better part of a year. She felt lonely and confused. She also felt depressed and scared. Sometimes she felt angry.

And when the active treatment was over, she was left with many side effects, especially chemobrain and lymphedema of the arm and torso, both of which caused her much frustration and grief.


This past weekend, I visited my mother in Houston. As we were sitting in her church on Sunday morning, I was struck by one of the verses and thought of Leslie and what it takes to recover emotionally from cancer:

For it is the God who said “Let light shine out of darkness”…But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

You may feel all of this as you go through treatment or recovery from it: afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down. And I would venture to say that many of us also feel crushed, despairing, forsaken, and destroyed at times.

The key to freedom is the treasure in the clay pot that lifts you out of these dark places of isolation, fear, and feelings of abandonment. It’s the light inside of you, the clay pot being your body…

In my view, the Light is your experience of the Infinite, and a power greater than yourself, however you imagine that to be. While parts of you are finite and your body is vulnerable and limited (especially as you go through or recover from cancer), the Light is also there, just beneath the surface.

Remembering this Light, connecting to it is, is part of yoga and meditation practice.  A favorite element of kundalini yoga practice is the song we end with in class:

May the longtime sun shine upon you

All love surround you

and the pure light within you

guide your way on