I was recently reading a biograph about a woman and her husband and how they overcome the most unimaginable difficulties. In passing the author mentions the art of Japanese kintsugi or “golden joinery”. This is the repair of broken or damaged pottery using gold to fill in and mend the cracks. Instead of being discarded, or further broken down and remade the object is repaired. The thought behind the repair is the object itself has a history and value which deserves to be preserved and illuminated. There are several assumptions in this practice that are so valuable for all of us to begin to apply in our own lives to the areas that need mending.
First, the object has value even after it’s been broken. Not only does it have value; but it is worth mending with costly and beautiful materials to increase its beauty and value. How many of us after being broken by something in life feel that we are beyond repair? It is a major shift to think we are more valuable after the brokenness and repair. The most damaged of vessels sometimes have pieces added in to make up for the holes and missing spaces but every item is returned to wholeness. Do you believe this about yourself? Even when broken you can be returned to wholeness?
Another assumption made by kintsugi is that the history of the break and repair are valuable in preserving. The item has a unique history and life story that does include damage. The mending is highly visible and not designed to blend in with the rest of the work. Most times people try to hide and cover their damaged parts and history rather than allow them to be visible. We all end up a little bit broken by life and have mending that is done by necessity. We are all earthen vessels (2 Cor 4:7) that end up with chips or even shattered. Knowing who we are, and that brokenness is the norm instead of the exception should change how we view it in ourselves and others.
Finally, kintsugi is done by a master craftsman and artist. The joins are beautiful, filled with gold and call attention to the loving care required to painstakingly piece and restore the broken. In God our father we have a master craftsman willing to create in us golden scars and join our brokenness to give wholeness. We are promised, “a crown of beauty instead of ashes” Isaiah 61:3. The one who loves us most, who sees our broken places promises us they can be restored. Will you allow him to rejoin and polish them? The pot does not repair itself but relies on the craftsman to place the pieces and seal the golden scars.
All of us will end up broken as we travel through life. What we do have a choice in is what we do with that brokenness. We can hide it in shame, we can try to mend ourselves or we can allow a master craftsman to give us golden scars. In our beautiful repair we can glory in the fact that we are valued and loved enough to be repaired and our history has been turned from ash to beauty.