“Conscious weakness as a preparation for service is one thing; brokenness is another. We may know that we are but earthen pitchers, like Gideon’s, with nothing of our own but the light within, and yet we may not have passed through the shattering that sets the light forth. It is an indefinable thing, this brokenness, and it is unmistakable when it has been wrought. . .” Parables of the Christ-life
Two people emailed me an article: “Beauty Restored.” Both for the same reason. It reminded them of Lilias.
It was inspired by the New York Time’s op-ed article in which Angelina Jolie went public with her announcement of her preventative double mastectomy. The writer, Brian Draper, noted her bravery in “not hiding the scars of her own recent breakage and reconstruction.” He went on to describe an ancient Japanese craft, kintsugi. When a valuable piece of china was dropped and broken, instead of throwing it away or repairing it, the craftspeople pieced it together with a lacquer mixed with gold.
“And so, while the original work was made whole again, its scars and cracks were kept, celebrated, honoured, in golden seams. And the restored item was considered far more beautiful than the original – because of its brokenness.”
Brokenness. We live in a throw away culture which denies or rejects imperfection. In things. In persons. Something breaks – we throw it away and replace it with something new. Someone is broken or imperfect. That person is shunned or sidelined; aborted or euthanized.
Yet no one is protected from or impervious to brokenness. At start, no one is born perfect. It is only a matter of time before something will mar any illusion we might have of perfection. Brokenness is our reality, regardless of cause: our own faults or failings. . . the result of another’s abuse or carelessness – intentional or otherwise… or simply the reality of our existence in a broken world. . . .
Indeed, it was into just such a broken world that Perfection came, taking on human form: to identify with us. . . to walk alongside us. . . to bear and heal our wounds. . . to be broken Himself, ultimately, in order to redeem and restore us. Kintsugi. Love is the gold-infused lacquer transmuting brokenness to wholeness and beauty.
Redemption: grace extended. Proof perfect that even in our very brokenness we are worth something. Worth restoring. Kintsugi. Thank God, He is not a deity with a throw-away mentality!
Lilias, in Parables of the Christ-life, refers to the Old Testament story of Gideon sending his men to battle, in the dead of night, equipped only with a sword and an earthen pitcher. Not until the pitchers were shattered could the candles within shine forth and illuminate their steps. “The light is shed abroad because the vessel is broken.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
Shattered. Broken. From that very brokenness God can make something of true beauty. We can choose to finger the fractured fragments of our lives scrutinizing them with self-reproach or bitterness. Or, we can release them to God and view the emerging masterpiece being re-created by the skillful Hands of the Master Craftsman.
Painting: Journal 1898