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Kintsugi – Or How I'm Learning That Scars Are Okay

June 18, 2018 by

I used to resent my wounded places. Especially the visible ones – those areas of myself I consider weak, unhealed – where the pain was too great, the memories too awful, the grief just too deep. I wished they would all just hurry up and heal.

And then I discovered Kintsugi.

a Kintsugi bowl

My good friend, Carol Drew, enjoys photographing Kintsugi pieces in museums around the world and she introduced me to this craft (and graciously allowed me to use three of her photographs in this post). Kintsugi – the Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer resin – is a concrete acceptance in art and household objects that wounds are okay. Normal, even.

That wounds can actually become the places where we are the strongest; the place where the pain does the holding together. That there is no artificial rush toward healing and hiding of disfigurement, but a permanent, even beautiful, acknowledgement that the wound is here to stay.

The understanding that the more broken, cracked, or chipped an object is, the more precious it is; that the breakage and mending are an important part of the story. And, most painfully but crucially, that the shattered being surrendered itself to allow Another’s hands to fix and heal and glue back together.

a Kintsugi vessel

Kintsugi with its conspicuous gilding always gets me thinking in a good way about the cracked and mended places in my life that are more beautiful for having been broken. The breaking part was awful and the scars were painful as they formed. But after years of trying to mend the broken places on my own, I think I am beginning to realize that it is exactly through those torn places that light and healing enters and new things can begin.

New things like abundant joy, because the pain has no hold on me anymore.

Maybe, like a Kintsugi vessel, we can be of better, more joyful, and more celebrated service if we don’t try and disguise our wounded places.

Jesus is the ultimate bruised reed protector, the compassionate potter who puts the broken pieces back together and makes even more sense of them than before. Only Jesus can make something whole out of something that is smashed. But he doesn’t necessarily disguise the broken places. He does the healing and we carry the scars to remember.

Slowly, very slowly, I am learning to trust the wisdom of my wounded Master.

top-view of a Kintsugi bowl

And just as I’m learning to be okay with the breaking and mending process, I’m letting those scars remind me of just how often I inflict wounds on others, even unintentionally. I’m learning to let my battle scars just be part of the journey, so that I can join the other household objects in their broken usefulness – and truly get to work.


To keep up with Norann and her thoughts on motherhood, discipleship, and great recipes, follow her on Twitter at @NorannV.

Read Jason Landsel on Jesus as Kintsugi artist.

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About the author

Norann Voll portrait

Norann Voll

Norann Voll lived in New York’s Hudson Valley until moving to the Danthonia Bruderhof in New South Wales, Australia in 2002...

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  • This articlemakes me want to read more.

    Eleanor
  • I love your comment that ‘it is exactly through those torn places that light and healing enters and new things can begin.’ It is a profound thought, that instead of hiding or disguising our wounds, we allow them into the light of our Lord, and those around us. I am reminded that even our Lord Jesus, presented his wounds to Thomas, as a way for Thomas to realize who Jesus was! A mark of identity! I love the depth of your blogs, and the revelations you receive from the Father, in what could be seen as ‘normal, everyday’ events.

    Heather Kerridge
  • Thornton Wilder wrote it another way "“Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.” Thank you!

    DM