In the 15th century a Japanese shogun named Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a cracked ceramic bowl to China for repairs. When it was returned, the cracks had been filled with disagreeable metal staples.
How else could the bowl have been repaired, the shogun wondered. A ritual was born.
The source of traditions in a country soaked with them can nurture entire philosophies. Over the past five hundred years the Japanese have converted the repair of cracked ceramics into the fascinating art of Kintsugi. Fissures are filled with gold.
Caregivers are forever berating themselves for not being perfect. We fill the cracks in spirit with lead instead of healing them with gold. Kintsugi provides a loving metaphor through which we can acknowledge our imperfections with joy instead of self-loathing.
Embrace your flaws and turn them into gold. Only love’s gold can fill our “cracks’ so that our lives bloom more beautiful than before.
Failures of self-care cause fatigue that leads to errors & burnout. The pressure of meeting the immediate needs of others causes us to short-change ourselves. Meanwhile, some of us deny rest thinking we do not deserve it.
"It’s a sad man, my friend, who’s livin’ in his own skin and can’t stand the company," Bruce Springsteen sings. Are we too often unhappy with who is inside our skin? Can we befriend ourselves - become our own best companion?
We need to be kind to each other. We cannot do this unless we cultivate self-compassion.
On the other side of the world in the same century as Yoshimasa the sage Kahir offered encouragement:
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
Before gardens and after gardens.
Pour gold into your flaws.
Sit by the flower within you for two minutes now & recite three things you love about yourself.
-Rev. Erie Chapman