The path from confusion to clarity is marked with one quintessential truth: we are wounded and broken. Acceptance of this truth allows us to make peace with the mess. I'm wounded and broken. We all are. We're self-conscious about our brokenness. We're sensitive and insecure, even embarrassed about our woundedness. But we needn't be. We are all wounded and broken. We are we so surprised when we discover that another person is broken? Perhaps because we are so intent on ignoring our own brokenness. Everyone is broken. Everyone is wounded. To pretend otherwise is to open ourselves up to vast and ongoing deception. But it's okay that we're broken. It's only a problem if we subscribe to the false notion that we have to try to keep everyone and everything from being broken.
I am broken. Pretending otherwise is exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. But let me share with you the real problem with our brokenness. In our wasteful consumption-addicted society we throw broken things away. So we don't know what to do with our broken selves. What do we do with broken people, broken relationships, broken institutions, broken families, and of course, our very own broken selves? This is an important question. But a more beautiful question holds the answer. Can something that has been broken be put back together in a way that makes it more beautiful than ever before? It may seem like an impossible proposition to our straight line, everything in its place, secular minds.
But I marvel at how God doesn't use straight lines or right angles in nature. We invented angles and straight lines to prop up our insecure humanity. The perfection of nature is marked by crooked lines, brokenness, imperfect colors, and things that seem out of place. The perfection of creation is achieved through it's imperfection. And so it is with human beings. Your imperfections are part of what makes you perfectly yourself. If we put on the mind of God we discover one of the most beautiful truths this life has to offer. Something that has been devastatingly broken can be put back together in a way that makes it more beautiful than ever before. It is true of things, but it is even more true of people and it is true for you. This is the source and the summit of our hope.
We believe that once something is broken it can never be as beautiful as it was before. But that's not true. It's true that it cannot be exactly the same as it was before but that doesn't mean that it cannot surpass its former self. You don't look at a wonderful tree that loses some leaves and limbs in a storm and say, "It's ruined forever," but we say that about ourselves and other people. The Japanese have a beautiful art form called Kintsugi. It is a form of ceramics and I have been meditating on it for the past several years. In our disposable culture, if we break a vase or a bowl, we throw it away and buy a new one. This simple act allows us to maintain the illusion that life is not messy. It plays into our delusion of perfection. But life is messy. Perfect is a myth. And the wisdom of the Japanese art of Kintsugi has much to teach us.
When a vase or bowl or a cup is broken, artists gather up the broken pieces and glue them back together. Though it is how they put them back together, that is steeped in wisdom and beauty. They mix gold dust with the glue. They don't try to hide the cracks. They own them. They honour them. Even accentuate them by making them golden. They celebrate the cracks as part of their story. This is a beautiful lesson. They don't pretend the vase was never broken. They don't pretend that life is not messy. They don't pretend they are not broken. When we pretend to be someone other than who we are, our true self hides in fear and shame. The fear of being discovered and the shame of not being enough.
The most beautiful and surprising lesson that the Kintsugi art form teaches us is this: we are each other's wounded healers. We each possess the gold dust needed to glue each other back together, making them more beautiful and more lovable than ever before. Our love, connection, acceptance, generosity, community and kindness are that gold dust. This is astoundingly profound. There is a vital truth here. Kintsugi ceramics are staggeringly beautiful. There is an honesty in their beauty that is missing in the artificial perfection of mass-produced items. Once repaired in this ancient method, Kintsugi pieces are more beautiful and more loved than before they were broken.
This idea creates vast confusion for us. It's like a cognitive resistance in us. We don't believe that something that has been broken and repaired can be more beautiful and more loved than ever before. But hope depends on overcoming this false belief. Hope. Moving on from this false assumption is essential to making peace with our own brokenness and a vital ingredient in all healthy, vibrant, flourishing relationships. Someone who has been broken and healed can be more beautiful and more loved than ever before. Embracing this truth is liberating. But it's easier to do once we realize it's okay to be broken. It's normal, in fact. It's just part of the human condition. Once we embrace this truth, we find ourselves on the path of hope. If we reject it, we find ourselves on the road to despair. Someone who has been broken and healed can become more beautiful and more loveable than ever before and that someone is you.