More Beautiful for the Brokenness

Romans 9:19-29

kintsugiArt and repair merged in fifteenth-century Japan when a shogun sent a prized tea bowl back to China to be repaired. When it came back mended with ugly metal staples, the shogun was so displeased that craftspeople jumped at the chance to find a better way to repair it and other broken ceramics. Because Japanese art values the marks of use or wear on objects, damaged bowls or vases are not simply discarded. Instead, an object’s repair highlights its beauty and value.

So developed the ancient art of kintsugi, the Japanese word for “gold joinery,” a process of repairing ceramics with a lacquer mixed with precious metal, usually gold. The method caught on. Some artists were even accused of purposely breaking precious items so they could be repaired with kintsugi. Museums across the world feature these ancient items repaired with lines of gold. Beauty grows out of brokenness and makes the damage vanish. The life of the object continues.

If God is the potter and we are God’s handmade vessels, perhaps this is how God sees us. Hard times do not take away our beauty; damage doesn’t stop us from living and serving. God works gold into the cracks and broken places of our lives, and we emerge more precious when the repairs are done. This seems to be work God loves: ‘As it says also in Hosea, I will call “my people” those who aren’t my people, and the one who isn’t well loved, I will call “loved one”’ (v. 25).

This post originally appeared in Volume 24.3 of Reflections.

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