Kintsugi - Monday Musing, January 10, 2022
Kintsugi. An ancient Japanize art of repairing broken ceramics with gold. The term kintsugi means golden seams or golden repair. Rather than discarding, the broken pieces are put back together. The artisan embraces the deficiencies, filling each crack with gold to create an amazingly beautiful ceramic piece, more beautiful than the original. These imperfections tell a story of brokenness, rebirth, and beauty in not being defeated.
I have been thinking about kintsugi this past week as I reflected on the anniversary of the events at the US Capital, which occurred on January 6, 2021. Our country is divided, some would say broken. Is it possible to bridge the divide that exists? Left, right, progressive, conservative, vax, anti-vax – divisiveness and extremism on both sides of the aisle. Can the breach be joined? Some would argue that politics has always been polarizing, citing numerous political divisions going back centuries. But others highlight that the insurrection at the US Capital last year was over-the-top, uncharted territory, if you will.
The church has seen many divisions since its creation. The apostle Paul highlights these divisions in the early church in his epistle to the Corinthians. No one was listening because each person was fully convinced in his or her mind that he or she was correct; each felt that they had the whole picture, the only right picture, the picture that others needed to have if they were to be truly called righteous, if they were to be truly considered part of the body of Christ.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, his response was to love God, and then to love neighbor and self second. Jesus didn’t make one more important than the other. What he said was, “And a second is like it.” In other words, loving God is loving your neighbor as yourself, and loving your neighbor as yourself is loving God. In quoting the Shema, Jesus points out that the aim of the law is to orient one’s entire life toward God. However, one cannot love God without loving what God loves. One cannot love God and oppress or exclude any of God’s creatures – even one’s enemies. To love God is to love in the way that God loves – indiscriminately. To love God is to love what God loves – everything and everyone!
Those in Washington might consider focusing their efforts on healing divisions, not discarding differences, but embracing and thoughtfully considering differing political positions. The technique of kintsugi repairs broken ceramics in such a way that it acknowledges faults, flaws, and weaknesses, and thereby creates something new and beautiful. For us Christians, our “gold” is the power of our faith, our love of God, and our commitment to follow Jesus’ teachings. For our country, the idea that all people are created equal, possess unalienable rights of freedom, liberty, and equal opportunity is what binds us together. As a community of faith, let us pray that our imperfect union remains a beacon of hope for the world, united in purpose, and restored to wholeness with its cracks polished to make us a stronger nation. See you in church!