In our world of shiny newness and youth-adoration, built-in obsolescence, and if-something-breaks-just throw-it away collective attitudes, it may be hard to imagine a certain art form, Kintsugi.
But if you have not heard of it yet, I’d like to introduce it to you now. I believe this art form reflects the Work of God…and I’m not kidding.
Kintsugi (金継ぎ?) (Japanese: golden joinery) or Kintsukuroi (金繕い?) (Japanese: golden repair) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.
A technical explanation, no doubt. But this is not the reason why I share it with you today. Rather, it is because of the philosophy behind the art that I find so relevant to the times we live in, and to remember the spirits-in-human-life we are.
“As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.”
“As a philosophy kintsugi can be seen to have similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. Japanese æsthetics values marks of wear by the use of an object. This can be seen as a rationale for keeping an object around even after it has broken and as a justification of kintsugi itself, highlighting the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.
[In Kintsugi, or the philosophy of mushin] not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin….Mushin is often literally translated as “no mind,” but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. …The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identiﬁcation with, [things] outside oneself. -Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics
Isn’t that gorgeous? A philosophy that actually celebrates the inherent frailty and thus magnificent strength-in-fragility of Life?
If we Souls wanted to remain untested, we would have stayed in Heaven with Our Father, who loves us, and Who doesn’t let anything bad happen to us in our true birthplace. It’s heaven, after all. But to have come here, He must have asked us to do so with a wonderful mission in mind, and we must have had the eagerness of a child to say “Yes! God, I will! Because it’s great! And I want to grow! And I love you and I want to make you happy! And I am willing to trade in my innocence for the lessons You would teach me. So…YES!” And with complete trust, on our second “yes” we fall to earth, become a screaming infant that promptly in the bright lights and noise, forget all about our true birthplace, trust, and whatever crazy reason we came to this beautiful-but-sometimes-hostile-classroom. There was a reason to all this?! WHAT were we thinking?!
At least that’s how I see it.
And then we spend the rest of our lives wondering why the heck we are here. We learn to pull ourselves up, then we fall. We learn to walk, then we fall. We learn to run, we fall. We learn to ride a bike, and we fall. You get the drift. All the time, wondering, “Why???”
Maybe after a while, some of us stop wondering, “Why”. It’s just better to do, forget the why. But for the misfits, outcasts, the misunderstood, the artists, musicians, and writers, who refuse to live a life unexamined, we never stop asking, “Why?” Like the tides that are magnetized by the Moon, a force we do not understand and cannot see, we are compelled to keep asking until we find bits and pieces of the answers. For we KNOW there are answers. We can feel them….nearby…just out of reach.
And so being human, but certainly not fitting in this human world because we feel a bit too much, see too much, live too much, we are more prone to “break”.
At least that’s how I think the world sees it.
But is that any reason to hide the parts that are broken? Are those parts “less-than”? Some who have totally bought into this world would say yes. Be ashamed. You have broken because you were not strong in those areas. You have failed.
I’m really glad I’m of the mindest that the world does not have the last say on a human life. And neither, for that matter, does our modern culture.
For here, Kintsugi, is not only a philosophy but an art form that highlights the “broken-ness” and fills it in not with more plaster, or plastic. It does not fill in the cracks of “mistakes” with something worthless. But The Bowl-Filler fills in the experiences that were too much for our humanness, survivable only by our Our Spirit with PURE GOLD. For God so loves us, he fills in the holes of our lives that we cannot fill, with something far more precious than what we could have imagined.
That’s why I think Kintsugi is a reflection of the Work of God. For as a mere human artist lovingly fills in the ceramic cracks of a bowl, how more so does Our Father lovingly fill in our questions, our “why’s” with the alchemy and grace of His Spirit?
In my last post I encouraged our fellow Jonathon Livingston Seagulls to be The Hearth-Burners….to keep true “within ourselves” values of goodness, hope, and strength, among other values that will keep us steady in this manic world we live in. It really does not matter what others do. It matters what we do, given what the world is. We must do our part, and be the vessels we were born to be, whether we remember “why” or not.
For you see….we don’t have to have the answers. We just have to remember WHO has them. The Beloved. The Bowl-Filler.
Many years ago, I wrote the following prose. I end this post today with its words. I call it “The Blessing Benediction,” and I dedicate it to all of us, Jonathon Livingston Seagulls, who so carefully walk…er….fly… the edge of two worlds, the seen and the unseen, for this Coming Year.
The Blessing Benediction:
“He knew your name before you drew His Breath in for the first time, and opened your eyes.
“He cradled you as He fashioned from the Soul, and the soil a clay bowl,empty except for all
“His Love, His Dreams, His Hopes, and His Plan for you.”
“When you took your first step-your first step of freedom- He gave the Bowl to you, and yet….
“Perhaps you could not see anything in it.
“Look closer now….you have grown wiser, and I’m sure now you can see some of the Gifts He has given you.”
“And if not…
“He is still here. You could bring the Bowl to Him and ask Him to tell you about it, and what you see–and what He Sees.
“Together, that Bowl will fill.”
“For Our Father has been with you always,
“Loving you, Warming you, and Waiting for you…to ask Him In.”
-Written by KaiCarra, December 2009. C2009, all rights reserved.
With all my love,
On a personal note:
My uncle, David, was a minister–I learned so much from him. I learned how to keep an open mind, and to study, and then to study some more. Filter through the layers and ponder the deeper meanings of What Was Written. I learned that it was not enough to be a Christian, but to be a Christ-follower. He is now with Our Beloved Bowl-Filler, most likely tending a harvest of grapes for the Grand Vintner. But as I went to retrieve this prose, I ran across a comment he wrote a long time ago in reponse to it. I had to include it. I miss him so much.
Uncle David, I hope I’m carrying your work on just a tiny bit. It is one of my hopes. One of my answered “why’s”. Thank you for inspiring me to do so. I love you. -K