“I wish I weren’t so shy. I don’t know what to say in conversations.”
“Why did I speak so harshly to my sister? I sounded like a know-it-all. She pulled back leaving a gap between us. Our relationship has become strained.”
“My husband’s death has brought me excruciating suffering. I’m so vulnerable–in my feelings and abilities to carry out his responsibilities. I don’t know how to take care of our financial matters and the upkeep of our house. My heart is broken. What does the future hold for my family and me?”
Daily we experience cracks and brokenness. An ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi can shape our perspective on such happenings. Furthermore, we can see the action of God in our lives: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
Kintsugi is a technique that puts broken pottery pieces back together with gold. It artistically repairs and highlights the history of the vessel with its unique cracks and breaks—each showing its singular beauty and renewed strength.
In addition to restoring the use of a ceramic, Kintsugi serves as a metaphor for accepting, even embracing, what we consider our flaws and imperfections. As is true of pottery, we all experience knocks and breaks. We fail and are embarrassed. People we love, and we ourselves, are injured. Some die. Our hearts are broken; we feel we will never be whole again. We hold, often in secret, our dislike of some of our traits—body size, lack of athletic ability, voice that is too loud, average intelligence, quick temper.
Life serves as an effective teacher. As days and years move on, Kintsugi of life can be moving us to wholeness—from strength to greater strength, from cracks and brokenness to durability and wholeness.
For example, a gold line is drawn when shyness develops skills in listening to ourselves and others. Gold lines mend harsh comments with care in speaking, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving myself. A broken heart mends and gives us the gifts of compassion, gratitude, courage, and living in the truth of our vulnerability and interdependence. We receive opportunities for developing new skills.
Many of our “cracks” can be repaired and returned to service with new strength and beauty. Our scars can become highlighted, not as faults, but acknowledged as part of the wholeness and beauty of who we are. As earthen vessels, we can trust in God’s power to repair and renew. We can know God as a skilled and faithful Kintsugi artist, ready to apply glue and gold paint to what needs restoring in ourselves, in our world.
Mary Reuter, OSB