In 15th Century Japan the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa is said to have broken a much loved tea cup. He sent it back to China to be repaired. It was returned fixed with ugly metal staples, leading Yoshimasa to find a better way to make the repair. His craftsmen developed a technique of gluing pieces of pottery back together using a distinctive glue mixed with gold, leaving a beautiful join that spoke of the object’s history. So began the distinctive art of Kintsugi.
In her sermon at the ordination of priests at Manchester Cathedral recently Revd Hilary Ison skilfully used this image to talk of our human brokenness and God’s loving action in our lives. Of course, in a sermon on such an important occasion Hilary said many things but what particularly stood out for me, writes Fr Ian, was this striking image of ourselves and God’s grace and love.
Each of us knows brokenness and failure. For some life is in many fragments, for others the pieces are coming together and being rebuilt. Kintsugi recognises brokenness as within the history of the object. The broken pieces are skilfully and carefully joined by the artist and the restored object has new life and an additional beauty of its own with the gold lacquer contributing to the reformed object.
Allowing ourselves to be reshaped by the love and grace of God brings to ourselves change and a new beauty as threads of gold, God’s grace, gloriously restore us and strengthen us. We are renewed, and our brokenness is held together by the golden threads of God’s grace. The golden grace is inherently part of our renewed selves.
Hilary’s sermon concluded with apt words of a singer she admired as a student: