In a recent Slice of Infinity article, “Slain and Standing”, Jill Carattini writes about the Japanese art of kintsugi:
When the reigning fifteenth century Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl, the distraught military dictator sent the antique pieces of pottery back to China to be repaired. The bowl was returned to him, repaired using a technique commonly practiced at the time. Metal staples fused the pieces together in a manner that assured the beloved bowl’s function, but the bowl was never the same. In Yoshimasa’s mind, the object was broken first by the fracture and then again by the mending. Disappointed, he called Japanese craftsmen to come up with another way.
What was born was the art of kintsugi, which expresses the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi, embracing the flawed and imperfect, revealing beauty and strength in what has been broken. Kintsugi literally means golden connection or golden jointing . Broken pottery fragments are fused together using lacquer and gold. The end result is still repair in the deepest sense, but the breakage itself is not erased; in fact, it becomes all the more obvious. Rather than concealing the flaws, cracks are accentuated and highlighted. The repair remains the object of admiration, but the breakage is seen as a part of it, bestowing more value, emboldening strength, esteeming beauty.
She goes on to process how we often skip over the crucifixion to celebrate the resurrection. Yet,
In the Revelation of John, John sees the connection between the cross and the resurrection quite distinctively. “Then I saw… a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne” (Revelation 5:6)…But think of it: how on earth does a slain lamb stand? And how is a slain and standing lamb somehow more worthy, more beautiful, more powerful and thriving?
The death of Jesus of Nazareth, the shattered life of the Son of God, is not covered up by the reparative work of Easter. He is both slain and standing—offering us both realities and their immense beauty in one person, in one crucified and risen Lord. This is his body: a lamb irreparably broken by his obedience even unto death on a cross, the Son of God standing, offering us a meal and asking us to consider it. Powerfully, mysteriously, impossibly, Jesus is both wounded and whole, scarred and sacred—broken and given for you.
Every time we celebrate communion, we have the opportunity to remember the broken body of Jesus that heals our own wounds. It is fascinating that this practice, intended for our regular participation, draws us back to these realities of our slain Savior, our own wounds, and the restoration of our lives.
Which leads me to a simple question: how have you seen God apply kintsugi to your own life? How has he artfully taken the broken parts of your lives and made them beautiful? I think this is an area where we can all share our testimony in a humble way with those we know and love the best.