(As told by Robert B. lngram, PhD.
Special Assistant to thc president for Urban Affairs -
Florida Memorial College, Miami.)

My Friends I am sure that at some point during your service to enhance the cultural arts here in Miami Dade County THAT there were times you felt like you had been put through the fire. And then you look back and wonder how did you endure?

am sure that in many instances your endurance was reluctant and that you've come this far in spite of yourselves.

That is one of the reasons I want to share this sage African account about reluctant endurance, a story that certainly could be true for many of us here striving to make Miami Dade County the CULTURAL ARTS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. THE Story is about a man, much like Rick Sisser, who uses understanding and appreciation of the arts to seek out the best in our community. Like RICK, the man in our story loves antiques, pottery, and other forms of fine art - especially VASES. One day at one of the stalls in the village marketplace he came upon a beautiful VASE.

He said, to the owner, "May I have a look? I've never seen a VASE quite so beautiful" As the owner handed it to him, suddenly the VASE spoke, "You don't understand," the VASE said. "I haven't always been a vase. There was a time when I was only a red piece of clay. My master took the clay, rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, let me alone, but he only smiled, and said "Not yet."

Then I was placed on a spinning wheel "the VASE said, "and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. I shouted Stop it! I'm getting dizzy! But the master only nodded and said, "Not yet."

"Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and l yelled and knocked at the door. I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head and said "Not Yet." Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. "There, that's better," I said and then he began brushing and painting me all over. The fumes were horrible.

I thought I would gag. "Stop it. Stop it!" I cried. He only nodded and said 'Not Yet." Then suddenly he put me back intto the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head and saying, "Not yet."

"Then I knew there wasn't any hope. I would never make it. I was ready, to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, "Look at yourself. And I did. And when I saw the image in the mirror I said, "That's not me. I couldn't be that beautiful. " The Potter said, "I want you to remember the hurt that occurred when I rollwed and patted you and know that if I had left you alone, you would have dried up.

I know I made you dizzy when I spun you around on the wheel but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.

I knew it hurt and was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but I fI hadn't put you there, you would have cracked.

I know the fumes were bad when I brushed you and painted you all over, but if I had not done that, you never would have hardened; and you never would have had any color in your life.

And if I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you would not have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished produtc. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you."

Each in their own heart, each in their own way - LET US PRAY!

ALMIGHTY POTTER, we thank YOU for the trials and tribulations we encounter working to impact positively on the cultural life of our community, help us to know that our difficulties are not designed to make us bitter but to make us better.

Thank YOU for the patting, the spinning, the disagreeable heat of insufficient funding, the constant need to convince varying governmental entities that our cause is right and just - for we know that our disappointments, our difficulties, and our frustrations are well worth our efforts.

There is absolutely NO doubt about it. So, we pause to thank YOU for every burden that we may have had to bear and every difficulty that we may have had to face.

From behind the altar of eternity we hear the sweet golden voice of THE CREATOR OF ALL ARTISTIC DESIGN saying to us that:

WE only have a minute,
Sixty seconds in,

It's forced upon US,
WE can't refuse it,
WE didn't seek it,
WE didn't choose it

But it is up to US to use it
Give account if WE abuse it.
Suffer if WE lose it.

It is a tiny little minute, But eternity is in it!

In this minute, in this eternity we have learned to endure - even though the stakes are high and the mission dangerous - we must push toward the mark of the high calling of innovation and accomplishments as we enhance the artistic heritage of our community.

NOW IS THE TIME ! Now it the time:

FOR Intolerant folk, to pray up;
FOR Sleeping folk, to wake up;
FOR Depressed folk, to Cheer up;
FOR Down & out folk, to look up;
FOR Cold folk, to fire up;
FOR Bitter folk, to sweeten up; and
FOR Gossiping folk, to shut up!

For we are reminded that WEEPING MAY ENDURE FOR THE NIGHT, But if we stay the course, and keep the faith - championing the cause of a cultural renaissance in our community:

There will be real JOY!
Unspeakable JOY!
Unbelievable JOY!
Undeniable JOY!
Unquestionable JOY!

JOY! JOY! JOY! In the morning! Now let those who love THE ALMIGHTY POTTER OF THE UNIVERSE - say, Amen.


To contact Dr. Ingram, please call 305-995-1340 or e-mail