Our home is sometimes like a beautiful “storage room”, we have a lot of stuff. The thing is, I can point to each item of mine and tell you the story behind it, and why I hang on to it. I suppose that’s how hoarding starts.
Yesterday, as I was looking for a book on a part of the shelf I don’t always get to, I spotted a forgotten bowl that reminded me of a time in my life I would like to forget but also need to celebrate.
We all have periods, I suppose, where circumstances have broken us. I’m not going to get into that specific period in my life except to say it was years ago and during that time I received a gift from a good, older, wiser, friend from my theatre world. Knowing that life (through my own choices, other people’s choices and some other circumstances) was handing me a platter of pain and garbage, she asked to meet for coffee. We met, we hugged, and she handed me a silk-wrapped gift. I opened it and found a beautiful Asian-crafted bowl (see photo). Not a bowl to fill things with, but a beautiful blue-glazed bowl to sit on a shelf…perhaps someday in Anderson, Indiana…to serve as a remembrance for me.
“I’m not going to tell you why I’m giving this, or why it is designed the way it is. Part of your journey should be to search its meaning out…and it has one” she said.
“I will tell you this. The form of this bowl is also a form of Japanese philosophy…it’s called ‘kintsugi’.”
And with that, she changed the subject, sipped her chai latte, and spoke no more of it. We chattered about other things.
I took the beautiful blue bowl with gold veins home, and looked the word up.
The art (and philosophy) of “kintsugi” is to take cracked and broken pottery…even if it is pottery which had been used in a practical way (in fact, that’s even better) and instead of throwing away the pieces, they are glued back together with a lacquer mixed with powdered gold.
Why? So that when seen or used again one would be reminded that breakage in our most vulnerable times leads to repairs that ARE not, and SHOULD not be, disguised as something ugly but signify something that is fully healed and stronger. Kintsugi is a philosophy which has been around for over 600 years, and…
…this TRUTH in Japanese philosophy is TRUTH from God.
The Spirit reminds us that God does not cause disaster or difficulties. And although one could argue that God may test us, even Jesus urges us to pray that His Father doesn’t test us. Yet, difficult times come…to everyone (the BELIEVER & FOLLOWER and to the non-Believer) sometimes it’s a test, sometimes it’s just “life”.
What God DOES with those moments and seasons is “kintsugi”.
I’ve almost always referred to God as “the metaphysical Rumpelstiltskin” : He turns “straw” into “gold”, in partnership WITH us and FOR us (see ROMANS 8:28).
When I saw that bowl yesterday, my mind travelled back to the time when both the bowl, and I, were broken. Then I saw and touched the strength (and beauty) of the gold veining today. I would not wish much of my own journey on anyone, but I would hope that everyone could end up where I am now.
My beautiful scars are now as much a part of me as anything and everything else, in fact they have come to define me.
The irony is not lost on me that in the Age-to-Come my new body will probably be without scars. And the only person we meet in that New Heaven and New Earth bearing scars…
…will be Jesus. His scars healed ours.