Can we imagine becoming stronger in our broken places? There’s a tradition in Japanese pottery called Kintsugi, where a broken pot is restored through a type of gold joinery. Potters cherish seeing the imperfections as a creative addition, making a pot more gorgeous and more precious than before it was fractured. When something has suffered damage and has a history, they assert it becomes more beautiful, even giving rebirth to the bowl’s life story.
I first heard of this shortly after our daughter died through writings of the poet, Mark Doty. He describes the ancient Japanese ceramic cups, once the property of some holy monk. Centuries later, a cup was dropped and broken, but even in this condition it was too beautiful to simply destroy. So it was repaired, not with glue, which wouldn’t hold for centuries to come, but with a seam of gold solder repairing the break in what could never be repaired perfectly. The gold solder added a beauty to the cup, making part of it quite visible.
Doty writes, “The metaphor offers the possibility to ‘honor the part of oneself that’s irreparable-to fill the crack with gold means to give the break prominence, to let it shine. Wearing its history, the old cup with its gilt scars becomes, I imagine, a treasure of another sort, whole in its own fragmentation, more deeply itself, veined with the evidence of time.”
I found this story and image held healing power. I was so moved by it that my husband surprised me on my birthday that year by giving me a picture of Krista from high school inside a stone frame with golden veins. It always reminds me that if we can keep our hearts open to love and grace after profound loss, enduring strength finds space to come forth from our broken places.