Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery and filling the cracks with gold, silver, or platinum. This repair shows that the brokenness is part of the history of the piece instead of some reason to throw it away or hide it. It celebrates each crack by filling it with precious metal. The piece often looks more beautiful as a result of this process.
Shortly after her seventh birthday, we found out that a part of my daughter, her most precious part, was broken. To repair it, the surgeons would have to further damage her tiny body by breaking through her sternum and stopping her heart, cutting out a part of her pericardium, and using it to repair a large hole. Much like a broken piece of pottery, she would forever have a crack down the center of her chest.
Shortly after her diagnosis, a friend sent us a Kintsugi kit. We opened it and looked at it, but my daughter wasn’t ready to do anything with it. Today, as part of our homeschooling, we watched a video about the art of Kintsugi and talked about how we are like that broken pottery. We opened the kit and pulled out the two beautiful whole bowls. Using a piece of cloth, we smashed the pottery with a hammer. We took time to look at each piece and see how each one fit into the other to create a new bowl. We glued the bowls back together and sealed them with gold.
Through this process, we talked about times when we felt broken. We talked about how sometimes we feel like all those broken pieces just lying there on a cloth. We talked about things in our life that make us feel new or better. We talked about how music, art, family, our dog, cuddling, and our hammock are our gold paint. These things help us feel whole again. I told my daughter that we could look at these broken times as part of our history and recognize that they are not weaknesses, but the things that make us stronger. She said her surgeon made her stronger with stitches. She said she’s lucky because she only has one crack and the bowls have cracks all over.
This discussion led to us eventually painting her scar gold like the cracks in the pottery. She looked at it and smiled. She loves her scar. She asked if it could always be gold and I replied, “It is even if you don’t see it.”
My daughter is seven. Deep discussions don’t happen much. Even today, we only touched on the significance of the art we did. My wish for her is to remember it. I want her to see gold beaming through her skin like sun rays bursting out of her chest every time she looks down at her scar. When she gets hurt or fails or life just knocks her down, I hope she finds her gold paint, puts herself back together with it, and realizes she is stronger and more brilliant every time. I hope she never feels shame when things go wrong, but instead sees the lesson that comes from breaking.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”