Long time readers of this blog may remember that, in October 2017, I wrote a series focusing on the Japanese art of Kintsugi and how it reflects God’s healing in our lives.
It’s hard to believe that was almost five years ago, and the Kintsugi series remains one of my favourite things I’ve shared here.
For those of you who are not familiar with Kintsugi, it translates as “golden joinery” and it is an art which involves repairing broken ceramics with gold lacquer in such a way that the repairs are very obvious, but beautiful.
It literally takes brokenness and turns it into beauty, and it sees the brokenness not as something to hide, but as something to value as part of the object’s history. As I looked into Kintsugi, I discovered many similarities with God’s healing work.
Since writing the series, I had always wanted to have a go at Kintsugi and in the last couple of weeks I finally got the opportunity.
It was fascinating and challenging, and my first attempt is definitely a far-from-perfect beginner’s effort, (also, for some reason, the kit included silver lacquer instead of gold and it was too similar to the colour of the ceramic) but I learned a lot from giving it a shot.
Over the last couple of years, I have been joining in God’s work of helping others through brokenness with Journey to Heal, and I discovered that there are many similarities between this process and Kintsugi.
Every piece of Kintsugi is unique. In the same way, the brokenness each of us face is unique. Even when we have had similar experiences, they are not the same, and so the healing that is needed is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach with Kintsugi, just as God’s work in each of our lives is specific to each individual.
Kintsugi takes time and patience; it is truly a labour of love. It is not a process to rush. The pieces are stuck together with a two-part epoxy which is then mixed with gold (or silver) powder. The mixture hardens extremely quickly so has to be individually mixed for each piece, and once it is mixed it has to be used immediately. It is a strange mix of fast and slow, which again seems to reflect God’s healing work. There are times when it moves very quickly and then there are long periods of waiting in between.
And I discovered that in Kintsugi there is a good reason for that.
Once two pieces of ceramic have been joined together, it is important to hold the pieces together for five minutes or so to allow them to stick. There is no point in rushing to prepare for the next piece. Unless the pieces are held together they will quickly fall apart. It reminds me again of the intimacy and individuality of God’s healing in our lives. He does one piece of healing, then pauses for a while to make sure it sticks, but during that time of waiting he holds us close.
Finally, I learned about perseverance. There was one point where I thought the ceramic bowl was too broken, that I wasn’t going to be able to get it all back together again, but as I took it one step at a time, it gradually came together.
It reminds me that God doesn’t give up on his work in our lives. There is no brokenness that is beyond him, and he will persevere until his work is completed.
So, that was my first go at Kintsugi! I definitely want to try again – I think with practice I will improve my skills, and I am sure there will be more to learn as I go. I have certainly found that in the mentoring work I’ve been doing.
I’m thankful that we have a God who cares and is capable of mending our brokenness and also that he allows and equips us to join in that work to bring his healing to others!