The Japanese have a method of repairing broken pottery called kintsukuroi or kintsugi. It is a method by which the broken pieces of the whole are melded back together and spiderwebbed with gold, silver, or platinum. This accents the breaking points, bestowing upon them a beauty and restoring the once-broken piece to functionality again.
It is also a reference to the history of the piece, that it once was a broken bowl or vase; rather than hiding this fact, the kintsugi method grants an honor to the significance of the repair and the restoration. By choosing to own the scars, by adding a shine and a value to them, the piece now has character and strength, dignity and usefulness. It is not less of a piece because of the breaks, but more of a piece because of the repair.
A whole philosophy has been adapted from this form of pottery mending, and there’s a haunting correlation between the clay and our humanity.
Each of us has, at some point in time over some painful event, been broken. We’ve had our hearts cracked, our souls devastated, our emotions dropped and thrown about without care. Being fragile creatures, we have been shattered by life’s events and by those around us. We even have self-inflicted damage adding to our brokenness.
One definition of kintsukuroi used these words: the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.”
“More beautiful for having been broken.”
I wondered if the same could be said of my life. Has it truly become more beautiful for having been broken?
In the process of living, wrinkles have appeared, surgery has left its mark, and I have become more weathered. With the birthing of my two cherished babies, stretch marks and scars are now visible where they were not at the age of 20. Too much sun exposure has caused my skin to tan and sun spots to sprinkle my arms, as well as stress and age adding a few gray strands to my already streaky brown-blonde hair.
Even more indelible than all the exterior evidences are the fault-lines buried deep inside, splits in the surface of my heart and emotions, cracks in my innocence, separations where this side of me parted ways from that side of me. Damage accrued from being poorly handled one too many times or jostled in the business of living. Each painful event accumulated in fissures on and below the surface.
In the middle of such crises, I wonder if I’ll ever survive, if any good could possibly come from such ugliness. I know I’ll never be the same and wonder if I’ll ever be whole again. I feel as if my life and health and vitality has slipped out and drained through the cracks, leaving it impossible for me to ever be filled to the brim with joy again. What can I offer when my sole purpose as a vessel has been shattered into a million shards?
… the master craftsman takes up the shards. He stoops and gathers each piece, gently arranges and fits, realigns sharp edges, sands the roughness with utmost care, and begins applying the precious metal.
With the restoration process, each step makes the piece larger, brings it closer to wholeness, resembles the original in shape and form, but somehow… more.
More beautiful. More tested. More mature. More adaptable, and stronger. Infused with a quiet confidence, an unshakable resilience, and the knowledge that once broken and repaired, I don’t need to fear the breakage of the future. An understanding grows that for all its awe, life holds a harshness, yet I am not doomed to be ground beneath the heaviness of those moments. And an understanding that in all its harshness, life holds beauty, and my life is meant to be a reflection of that. I have been tried, and although broken, I have been remade.
To be a vessel restored and redeemed by the potter is to be made once again capable of holding hope, of pouring out grace, and of overflowing with life.
It takes broken soil to produce a crop,
broken clouds to give rain,
broken grain to give bread,
broken bread to give strength.
It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.
…and it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever . –Vance Havner