Before I discovered this ancient philosophy I was impulsive and distressed. Negative events took me down into the abyss and my emotions controlled me. I’m a worrier. While I enjoy the small…
Broken- The aftereffect of being separated into pieces by a blow
Damaged- Physical harm that makes something less valuable
Repair-Restore something that is damaged to a good condition
Is there anyone who has not broken an item? Surely, there is at least one thing we loved in life that we broke.
When a physical item breaks, it’s easy to see the pieces scattered about. Yes, there will be big pieces that are easy to fit back together, some smaller ones that puzzle and make you question where they go? When you have sorted out the fragments and place them together, you see chips. The little bits that are too small to spot when cleaning up after the break, tiny specks that you sweep away. These missing minuscule reminders that what was once whole is now imperfect.
Breaks happen. That’s life. It’s not that you mean to drop your favorite cup or the plate given to you by your favorite aunt. Sometimes things slip from your hands, fall and break. The pieces scatter, waiting for you to pick them up. Do you gather them to repair your beloved object, or do you sweep them up and throw them away?
The Zen Philosophy of Kintsugi
In Japan, during the Muromachi period, the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite tea bowl. He mourned. This ceramic piece was beloved by him. He could not sweep it up and throw it out. Instead, he gathered the bits and sent them to China to be repaired. Eagerly, he waited for this precious bowl to come home, whole, mended, ready to be used, ready to be loved and appreciated again. Instead, what returned to him was a bowl repaired with ugly metal staples that took away its beauty. One that drew attention to the breaks that caused its imperfection. The Shogun did not like this. He took his bowl to local artisans who used their talents to create a repaired artwork, and hence Kintsugi was born.
The wise craftsmen knew there was no way to not see where the breaks occurred. Instead, they decided to make the fault lines beautiful, make them secure again. By applying a lacquer resin, which was used to adhere weaponry parts and dusting the seam with a precious metal such as powdered gold, they transformed a broken bowl into a piece of art. One that could be used again, adored and admired for its new beauty.
Love Heals All Wounds
Humans are fragile beings, easily broken with words, by acts, and deeds. In relationships, breaks happen when trust has been stretched or severed. Words, when thrown like knives, hurt, cause pain, and can increase the initial damage, turning a fracture into a break. But in moments of anguish, we often speak before we think.
It’s never easy to repair damage to the internal organ from which love flows. Bandaids stop the loss of blood and start the healing in an external cut, but they can’t be applied to our soul, where we store our trust and love.
As we process the act which caused the wound, we gather up the pieces of our heart. We must look at each piece, brush off the dirt, and lovingly place it in gentle hands. The deeper we loved the person who hurt us, the more pieces there are to pick up and fit back together. But as with Kintsugi, we can refit the parts and bind them with love, which heals.
To begin fixing the breaks in a relationship, the first thing to do is forgive. Christianity means to walk in the footsteps of Christ. Throughout the New Testament examples of forgiveness are found. The one most reflective of what we are expected to do is this; he asked his father to forgive the ones responsible for his impending death. If he could do that, then we should be able to forgive those who hurt us, but for humans, it’s not that easy sometimes. Harder still is to forget, and yes, we are told when we forgive, we need to forget for joy to be restored completely.
Gold joinery is used to repair a physical item and renew its use. In the Spiritual realm, love is the gold used to heal wounds, and bind the pieces of a heart back together so that it can once again feel joy, love, and the trust that broke.
WHERE PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION MEET
Kintsugi and Christianity want us to embrace repaired breaks in an object as part of its history. Pots and bowls or other objects didn’t get their scars without some usage. People don’t get theirs with giving from their hearts. Each little chip tells a story. Every tale is a memory.
Both Kintsugi and Christianity teach us to love those broken amongst us. Objects, people, relationships can be repaired, thus painting beauty from the ashes. Forgiveness, like gold joinery, requires time and dedication to complete the task. Porcelain objects, like relationships and people, are fragile. To make them better than what they are, the artisan must commit to healing the breach, doing the work needed, and being patient while the repair mends. Lacquer takes time to harden and dry. Likewise, it takes a while for true forgiveness to happen and love to be renewed. Longer sometimes for forgetting to occur.
Both Philosophy and Religion say it’s possible to restore something that has broken. Each agrees it just takes a willingness to dedicate oneself to the mending.
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