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The phrase often refers to the malleability of human kind: The ability that we all have to transform and be transformed by the many experiences we endure throughout our life. Also, it is an allegory to the creation of man from the group by God and the making of Adam. It is also the precursor to the phrase "from dust you come, to dust you will return", as the clay packs that same ethereal dust from which man was supposedly created.
It also pays tribute to the fact that we are not the strongest, nor the toughest, nor the most perfect. We are simple creatures...made of clay. It is a call to humbleness, a remembrance of our imperfections, and a reminder that all that we may destroy, we can create again.
it is ironic that we are all made of clay by god and when it is our time to die we will be covered with clay again
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