The Broken Bowl
Sometimes when I think about how my past has affected me, I feel very broken, very damaged. It’s not always a bad thing, I guess. And I think about my healing journey, that a lot of that brokenness I feel is healing. I recently came across my ‘Kintsugi’ bowl, an art project that I made during a retreat. We needed to take an unbroken pottery bowl and break it with a hammer. And then we were supposed to put it back together.
As I sat on my chair and looked at this mess of pottery in front of me, my shoulders sagged. How would I return it to its former beauty? Putting a broken piece of pottery together is not easy and it will never look the same. From some people’s perspective, it would look pretty ugly with the pieces jumbled and edges rough. But the way we were supposed to put it together was using gold in the glue. The whole idea became more beautiful. The way the age-old Japanese philosophy goes is when you put gold into the cracks, it adds value. In Japan, these antique items have a story with them so the value is interpreted as greater.
As I was putting mine back together, I was getting glue on my hands and fingerprints were getting on the bowl and even on my dress. And when I put the two halves together, it wouldn’t fit. I said, “Oh no! My pieces don’t fit!”
Someone said, “The glue is pliable. Just stretch it out a little.”
So I did that and I had to fill it with more gold. It appeared to me that the deeper ‘the wound’ the more gold that had to be put in the crack of the separation. And according to tradition, that would make it even more valuable.
I didn’t like the fingerprints on it, I thought about my hard moments when I thought God wasn’t there to protect me. I sighed and tears came to my eyes as I worked to put this thing back together. I took a deep breath and sat back to look at it, in its glaring imperfection.
Finally, I started to think of my pottery bowl as a vessel, as something that could hold something. And even with the glue putting it together, it could still carry things. It was not, in any way not able to do its function. It could still carry out its purpose, even with the repaired cracks. A light dawned.
When I looked deeply I saw, His fingerprints are with me. He is helping me along, holding me. This reminded me that He really never left me. And He does see beauty in our brokenness and He fills that brokenness in, a treasure of himself, of healing, of friendship, of not being alone.
And my brokenness, with the gold filling in my cracks, assures me that I am A Treasure and A Pearl.