Beautifully Broken

Many years ago I found a striking photograph in a book, of a broken Japanese teacup mended with gold. It communicated so much: about a culture, mindset, and values. I was used to the western way of repair that tried hard to make things look “as good as new,” as though nothing had ever happened. The Japanese teacup conveyed the opposite. The brokenness wasn’t something to hide or disguise, but something precious to be honored.

I was delighted to find that someone had just posted a video in a Facebook group I’m a member of, documenting this mending process: kintsugi.

I’ve talked about the teacup I discovered in that book often. And when I’ve described it to clients, their faces light up. They get the metaphor and the larger message. They reconsider their own brokenness, now recognizing the underlying cultural values that have reinforced their sense of shame. A new possibility opens: beauty.

We’re able to talk about therapy as a kind of mending. And if they’ve felt some shame about being in therapy, that eases too. They’re able to appreciate therapy as a precious opportunity for repair.

They handle each broken piece with care, intrigued by the way things fit together anew.


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