Determined to re imagine beautiful after the death of my husband four years ago, I came across the Japanese art of Kintsugi, that believes repairing broken pottery with seams of gold, makes the object stronger and more beautiful, emphasizing the beauty in what was once broken and that nothing is broken beyond repair. I wanted that. It rooted deep inside. And looking to fill the vacuum of time I now found myself in, this was something I needed to do.
Kintsugi asks that it resonate.
Desperate to fix what was broken in my own life, my first attempts to mend a broken cup were frustrated with impatience and shaking hands. Infinitely harder than I imagined, I would learn that the process required much more than just the glue, the gold, and a broken cup. Angry tears at my umpteenth attempt, covered in gold dust, glue everywhere, on every finger and surface, I resolved the cup would stay broken, and put away in dark place, the dreams of healing for another day.
Kintsugi asks that you step out of time.
It was a arduous journey to the day when I was finally ready.
Kintsugi asks that you make the journey.
I meticulously prepare the surface to work on, carefully laying down my handmade tools, the gold, the glue. Kneeling on the floor, and holding the broken shards in my hands, I close my eyes. Sensing the sheared pathways using only the tips of my fingers, I remembered. I remembered that day. That awful beautiful day my life had sheared in an ugly unimaginable way. The shards feel sharp, their contours ragged and brittle. I remembered. Feeling the fit of the connecting broken pieces, wincing at the gritty feel and sound of their raw wounds, careful not to cause further damage to the tender edges of the scar. The feeling and sound of that day. I felt it. I heard it.
Kintsugi asks that you sense the space between.
I think of my friend, Therle, the potter, holding the damp clay in her hands, it's purpose behind her closed eyelids. But not before she sweat, and her back ached kneading the the clay, removing the trapped air that might cause it to shatter in the heat of the fire. I remembered. We'd shared tea and stories, and she never looked away when I looked down, and my mouth trembled. Her gift, now mine. Few were so brave to not look away. That winter I took home five, beautiful Therlywhirly Chai cups to fill with comfort, and warm not just my hands but my cold soul. Until my favorite fell to the floor and broke. Precious broken pieces.
Kinsugi asks that you honor the pieces.
Yes, I remembered the Winters. All four. Bitter cold.
With deep reverence, I still my beating heart, mix the gold and the glue, finding the balance that will not only bind but add strength and be beautiful too. Like the sacrificial words of someone who knows the measure. Carly. I connect with the broken pottery in a way unspeakable, having traveled the elasticity of time, in the space between then and now, an onerous journey, a luminous path of acceptance and humility; finally bringing the seams together, cushioned and bonded with liquid gold to form a scar. A golden scar that speaks not only of the day it fell and lost purpose, or its hoping in the dark place, but the day it became, with exquisite attention, a new version of itself.
And it was humbled. And it was beautiful. And it was strong.