October / November 2023

Blown Glass

By Natalie Oesch

In Ezekiel 37, God reveals His desire and power to transform lifeless people, culminating as He shares with them His own spirit. I found that glassblowing reflects something similar. The most ordinary and unrefined material can become something of great beauty as the artist prepares, shapes, and ultimately places his breath into the piece. Sand becomes valuable art that is functional or beautiful—and often both—in the hands of the artist and using a crucible. As I learned about glassblowing to write this poem, I reflected on how God has formed me through crucible times—those times that may test us and burn away impurities in our character, yet simultaneously and mysteriously, fuse together what should remain. These times can prepare us to receive something new. They can make us new.

May this poem cultivate in others what it cultivated in me as I wrote it: renewed trust in God, the master Artist. As we surrender to Him and hold onto His goodness, He continues to shape us into the beautiful image of His Son, Jesus. And what a wonder that He personally imparts His spirit to us as He does so.

Good tools are nice,
but good hands are better.

-saying of Murano glassmakers

Blown Glass

At times, I am scattered
dreams and skills, gritty

fears and flaws, coarse
sand dried out

in scorching sun,
scooped in a craftsman’s hand

and carried as we go
to a studio of three crucibles.

Who am I becoming?
Only the Artist knows.

As I am placed in the first,
instant intensity starts

my undoing. I am groaning
fervently here, learning

to relinquish; I am growing
heavy, stirred into honey.

With a rod He gathers me
out, glowing red

hot on the workbench,
prepped for patient choreography:

twirling, pressing, bending,
adding fiery color;

when I stiffen too soon
the second softens me

again, to keep in step
with this deliberate dance

that renders me to receive
breath blown gently,

my soft core expanding
to the shape of His spirit:

open-mouthed vessel
for pouring.

He never drops
His loving gaze.

I stay in the third
to cool, gradually


as who I am becomes

About the Author

Natalie Oesch lives in Chicago and spends her days supporting a variety of nonprofits as a copywriter, mothering her three young boys, and partnering with her husband, who leads an Anglican church in the city. She’ll take any invitation to go hiking in the woods, host someone over a simple meal, or linger with live music. She finds poetry a delightful space to behold God and the details of our lives.