Years ago I learned about a specific kind of Japanese art, called kintsugi. This art is a special kind of art because you take the broken pieces of ceramics and mend them together with a clear bonding agent that is mixed with gold powder. This is used in the cracks to put the pieces back together. Instead of trying to camouflage the cracks like I often do when trying to repair something, this makes the cracks truly stand out. The gold cracks bring a new kind of beauty and reveal a new wholeness. I have heard that some of this art fetches a higher price than the “un-damaged” counterparts.
The world around me often tells a different story. I can spend hundreds of dollars on things to try to make any wrinkle disappear or be camouflaged on my face. Social media accounts often share #relationshipgoals #bestlife #blessed with images of a “crackless” happy life. Even in relationships with others we sometimes do all we can to avoid conflict or draw attention to a problem, trying to pretend like it just isn’t there. The thing is, trying to appear to have a life like a flawless piece of pottery can be exhausting.
Social worker Brene Brown has spent much of her career studying the impact of shame on people’s lives. Her work has helped her realize that the ways that we try to conceal and hide our shame just feeds it. In fact, the greatest thing that we can do for whole-hearted living is be vulnerable, to be honest about our cracks. She talks about how in society we often equate vulnerability with weakness. In fact, what gives us the most strength is when we are honest and vulnerable about our lives, including the cracks.
When I fully feel the impact of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness is not when I have spent my time telling God how great I am. Nope. I am in awe of God’s grace when I can’t hide from the shame I carry around and God meets me there in my vulnerability.
God meets me in that space and fills the cracks with the golden powder of forgiveness and grace that reminds me that I am worthy not because I am “perfect” but because I am a child of God.
On Sunday mornings in the worship service we often begin with a time of confession and absolution. It’s a time where we get to speak out loud the fact that we have screwed up, we are broken, and we have hurt others. Then we hear the proclamation that God loves us, sees us, and forgives us. God calls us to share this love and forgiveness with others, as God has shared it with us.
How do we create sacred space for us to be vulnerable with one another, to be honest about the joys, successes, and the cracks? How can we enter a space with one another where we can be honest about the pain we experience and truly listen to the pain in others’ lives? How can we be honest with others about the ways that others have hurt us and listen deeply to the ways we have hurt them? How can we create space where we can hear about how the cracks in our systems bring pain into the lives of the neighbors around us?
When we take the time to build the types of relationships in community where this kind of vulnerable honesty can exist, the result is stronger than the “fake perfection.” When we listen deeply and are honest and vulnerable with one another this helps us find a new space that is filled with innovation and creative solutions.
In a Nobel lecture poet Derek Walcott said, “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.” How is God inviting us to reassemble our fragments in community with one another and with ourselves? It can be scary to be vulnerable about the cracks, but the result can be more beautiful and valuable then we ever could have imagined when we were clinging to a facade of perfection.
Feb. 20, 2019
Pastor Jim and Deaconess Kristin take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection. Contact them here: