It was a generous and unique thank you gift from a client. A kintsugi kit.
“Kintsugi” is a Japanese word that means “golden joinery,” and it refers to a beautiful art form of repairing broken pottery with precious metals like gold and silver. This practice celebrates the idea that brokenness and repair are part of the sacred history of an object, and that the visible cracks actually enhance the beauty of the piece.
My client explained that working with me was like reassembling the fragments of her brokenness and discovering on the other side a deeper and more precious sense of wholeness. I was deeply touched by the offering, particularly because I have referred to this metaphor of reassembling fragments over the years in my classes and trainings.
Being familiar with kintsugi, I was excited to have my own personal taste of the practice. With all the pieces of the kit laid out before me, I realized with some horror that I had to choose something to break in order to put it back together again! I immediately thought of my late partner’s favorite coffee mug which had remained untouched since her death 18 months earlier. It was a stretch to let it go, but it also felt like the perfect choice for this experiment.
I won’t bore you with all the details of what transpired except to say that I did such an excellent job of breaking the vessel that it ended up in many small pieces. And the reassembling was very challenging. Three and a half hours later, I found myself staring down the reality of the situation: the outcome was disastrous! The cup did not look like a cup. It was a royal mess!
In the end, all I could do was to laugh out loud, long and hard. And to marvel at the poignancy of two really important reminders that my kintsugi experience brought me:
It is truly hard work to reassemble the pieces after any fracture in your life. I mean, bone-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, hard work! Breaking apart and transforming might sound romantic, but the actual process is anything but!
And, rarely do the pieces reassemble themselves in a way that approximates the you that
you were before the fracture. It’s a precious belief that the pieces fit back in the same order and shape, simply revealing the golden seams of breakage. The truth is, usually the shape is totally different than what existed before.
And that, too, is okay.
These were lessons that I needed to remember that day. And maybe some of you do, too.
So, for any of you who are navigating loss, fracture, challenge, or uncertainty, I offer this message of encouragement illustrated lso ovingly in my Kintsugi card. Be gentle with yourselves. Pace your journey. Because it is a pilgrimage. Know that where you end up and how the pieces come back into form will likely take on a whole different dimension than you could have ever imagined. And maybe it will even take your breath away with its beauty.