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The Art of Broken Pieces

This weekend I went with my sister-in-law to a Kintsugi workshop that was hosted by a local lady in our community. Kintsugi is a Japanese art of mending broken things, traditionally pottery, and highlighting the broken places where the pieces were brought back together. The point is that you don't throw away things that are broken just because they are broken; the Japanese treat the breaks and the repair as a part of the history of the object and they believe that things still have value and beauty, even in their brokenness.

We were walked through a simplified process where each step was a call to reflect on our own life experience. The symbolism was powerful and deeply spiritual. First, we chose a bowl that we were drawn too, this bowl would represent ourselves. The breaking of the bowl is not a part of traditional kintsugi (She told us that the Japanese would never break something on purpose), but in this case we broke the bowl to symbolize the places in our lives where we have experienced a shattering, breaking loss. Next, we gathered all the pieces together, even the small shards and dust. Not all the pieces will be able to be mended, but all the pieces matter so we collect even the tiny ones to place in a bag that will stay next to the bowl or in it. Then we began the process of gluing the bowl together. This part was slow and difficult at times. Just as our own healing takes time, examining the pieces to determine how they fit together, realigning the pieces and gluing them in place, adhering tape to hold the bowl as it dries, it all takes time, attention to detail, gentle hands and intentional care. The bowl had to sit in this mended state, cracked, glued and held together with tape until the glue hardened and was strong enough to hold the bowl on its own. The final step, after the glue had dried and we removed the tape, was to paint gold over every crack and chip. This highlights and draws the attention to the cracks: our brokenness is also our beauty.

The whole process was deeply spiritual; there was meaning and purpose behind every step. It reminds me that when Jesus came back in His resurrected body, He came back with scars. His traumatic death was not erased from His history; the disciples could see and feel the holes where the nails held His arms and feet to the cross. These scars showed His glory: He defeated death!

What if we are to look our scars like this? That there is beauty in our brokenness; it is evidence of what we have overcome. It is our strength, our glory. We still have value and beauty even with brokenness in our past. This is so powerful to think about in regards to story: Jesus' story is our story--stories of deaths and resurrections, constantly bearing the marks of life in this world. May these scars also illuminate our beauty.

I’m in awe of kintsugi and will be pondering the profoundness of this experience for a lifetime.


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