The Hope of Kintsugi

Roger W. Lowther

April 22, 2022Tokyo, Japan

The auditorium was packed with students and professors as part of a week of events sponsored by the Asian Studies Department at Belmont University in Nashville. For my part, I talked about kintsugi, the traditional Japanese art of joining broken shards together with gold.

"Kintsugi is not about fixing; it's about recreating into the new. Our world is fracturing and falling apart, but that's not the end. We don't need to despair. There is hope, and kintsugi speaks to us about this hope, one broken piece at a time..."

I shared about people in Tokyo and the tsunami-stricken area of Japan personally impacted by kintsugi—a woman mourning the loss of her husband, a man estranged from his grandchildren, a young man suffering from unrequited love.

During the Q&A that followed, one young woman tentatively raised her hand.

"Can something be too broken to mend? Is it true? Is there a future for anything broken? I feel death so near..."

She trailed off and began to cry. The whole room was moved in compassion for this woman. Not knowing what to do, I came down from the stage and walked up the aisle to her seat.

"Would you mind if we prayed for you?" I asked.

"If you want to..." she sobbed, looking down at the floor.

As we prayed, we understood the power of art in new ways. We hurt. Relationships fall apart. Lives are devastated by COVID. Atrocities strike Ukraine daily. But in this week after Easter, we can remember that our brokenness is not the end. A broken Christ on a broken tree does not end with Good Friday. Our world is being recreated into the new. There is hope, and kintsugi whispers to us of this hope, one broken piece at a time.

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