By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
One of my favourite examples of Kintsugi in action is the story of the Great West Window at Winchester Cathedral.
In 1642, during the English Civil War, the conflict reached Winchester. Roundhead soldiers looted the city, and invaded the cathedral, shooting at the windows. Where once there were beautiful stained glass depictions of Bible stories, soon all that remained were fragments of broken glass.
The people of Winchester were devastated. The cathedral had been their pride and joy and they had been helpless to prevent its destruction. In the midst of their sorrow, however, they held onto hope that one day the conflict would end, and they gathered up as many of the broken pieces as they could salvage.
In 1661, when the war was finally over, there were discussions in Parliament about knocking down the cathedral. It was by this point just an empty shell, with holes in the roof and empty spaces where the windows had once been.
The people of Winchester had a different idea. They loved their cathedral and they longed to see it restored so they began the pain-staking task of assembling the broken fragments of glass into the window frame once more.
Of course, the destruction was such that it could never be restored to look as it had originally, but with clear glass inserted between the stained glass fragments, the finished effect is one of beauty.
I love how the education leaflet from the cathedral website sums it up:
“It didn’t tell stories from the Bible as it was meant to but told a different story. This story was of good overcoming bad, of great sadness turning into great joy, of conflict and fighting replaced by forgiveness and peace.”
For me, this story perfectly illustrates one of the principles of Kintsugi: even where there is great brokenness, restoration is possible. It may take time and commitment, and the finished product may look significantly different from the original, but in the midst of the brokenness, there is hope.
The same is true in our lives. There are circumstances which impact us in such a way that life can never be the same again. Yet even when our lives seem broken beyond repair, restoration is possible. God can still do something wonderful with the broken pieces, and the result can be a testimony of hope, telling others of his power to redeem.
“Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.” (Eric Liddell)