I brought a gift to a friend of mine. It was a small, turquoise, ceramic ring dish. It was charming. I would sit it in the most beautiful way next to my sink to hold my precious things. I was going to drop it in her mailbox, but she was outside, holding her little girl.
I was having a bad morning with my teenage daughter. I was mad. I was sad. I was frustrated. I had been crying.
My friend opened the box and thanked me for this little treasure. Then, in a moment, before she was able to use it for its purpose. . . i t s l i p p e d. . . i t f e l l . . . i t s h a t t e r e d. She apologized. She felt bad. I picked up the pieces. I wanted to keep them. It was worth something, to me, broken. The sound of it smashing onto the sidewalk, fractured my thoughts. It changed the course of my day. I still have the pieces.
At first, I thought that I was going to take the pieces and use them to imagine a mosaic. Imagine this small dish as part of something new, different. An entirely altered purpose. I placed them on top of my dryer. I looked at them each time I walked out the door, for a week. I would be the one to fashion them in a new form. I would create.
But then. . . I learned about Kintsugi
Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing the artifact with new life.
It is related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which calls for finding beauty in the flawed or imperfect. Making it a part of the object’s history.
The beauty and importance of the one looking at the dish, not the dish itself. Handing the (pieces of the) dish to the craftsman means that you are going to give the dish a total new life. . . a beautiful art piece.
Muneaki Shimode, Kintsugi craftsman
We humans break easily. We don’t hurt the same way. We don’t break the same way.
Bestow on the broken. . . beauty instead of ashes,
Use gold to adhere the pieces left after the shattering,
We desire to hand you the broken pieces,
Fashion them into new life, on display for your splendor.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.