Kintsugi

By Gabe September 14th, 2018

Setting: A small Japanese town, a beautifully quaint house, a young girl visiting her grandmother

A small girl is gazing at colorful bowls and vases in her grandmother’s kitchen cabinet. She has always been so impressed with her grandmother's unique gift of making beautiful things. Reaching up, she just wants to feel the cool stone under her small fingertips. She’s thinking absentmindedly about the singing birds outside and looks away to see the sunlight pouring in through the window. All at once the bowl falls to the ground shattering with a crash. The girl immediately feels regret, sadness and guilt. This was her grandmother’s very special handmade ceramic bowl. She begins to think of how she can hide it, maybe no one will notice if she picks up all the pieces and puts it in the trash...where no one will look or find it. With tears running down her flushed cheeks and her eyes darting in every direction, she quickly picks up careful not to miss even the smallest piece. She doesn’t even notice the small cuts on her own hands, because she is too focused on hiding the evidence of her mistake. 

A winded grandmother races into the kitchen after hearing a loud crash from across the yard. With worry on her face, her eyes search for her main concern...her beautiful granddaughter. What shes sees makes her hurt, not because of the action done, but because of the reaction. She immediately yet gently grabs her granddaughters small hands in hers and takes the ceramic pieces from her palms. She then washes her hands and treats her cuts and scrapes with a soft smile. Once all bandaged up, she sets her on the counter and tells her to stay put.

Carefully and meticulously the grandmother then begins to pick up every piece out of the trash and off the floor. The young girl, shame still in her eyes, wonders why? Why would she be taking everything out of the trash? It’s broken. It can never be her beautiful piece of art it once was. Then a voice in her head speaks to her. Maybe she is going to use it to show her the mistakes she made. Maybe she is going to shove it in her face, making her feel more shame and sadness. But did that sound like her grandmother?

The actions that take place next, the young girl can not comprehend. The grandmother gathers the broken pieces and takes them to her work room and shuts the door behind her. For what seems like days, the door remains shut. There are various strange sounds, tools clinging together, smells and silence...a lot of silence. 

Finally the door knob begins to turn. The young girl thinks she finally figured it out. Her grandmother was obviously making a new bowl. The door swings open slowly, and in the aged and weathered hands was a bowl. Yet, it was not just any bowl, it was the most beautiful bowl that the girl had ever seen. It was as if the bowl was reflecting the sun. Glimmering gold and silver lines ran through the sides and base. How does one create a bowl with that kind of unique beauty? The grandmother gingerly places the bowl in the small hands of her granddaughter. She then explains it is not a new ceramic bowl at all, not even an old bowl she could’ve found in a closet or cupboard. It was the very bowl she had broken... fused together with precious, costly, rare metals creating something more beautiful than ever was before.

When a dish is broken or chipped it is either thrown away or repaired to hide the cracks as if they were never there. Japanese Kintsugi is a tradition of repairing broken ceramics. the ceramic dish is repaired and fused back together using a precious metal like gold or silver. It doesn't hide the fact that the dish has been cracked. Instead, it turns it into something beautiful. And the dish becomes even more valuable than it was to begin with. Each flaw and crack is repaired with something precious and beautiful. What a beautiful act depicting what we hope for each trafficked or exploited child in this world of broken pieces.
- Jenna | Staff Writer

Clients who have a painful past often feel their inherent value is lessened by it. Reframing is a technique that helps a client see their experience in a different light, from a different angle and often in a way that adds something instead of stripping them of worth. Kintsugi is a perfect example of this by taking the very flaw or break that might have lessened the beauty of an object and making it the focal point that gives the piece a rare air of beauty. As people we are artwork, each rare and beautiful. Let your pain and your past be the foundation for a vein of beauty that only shines from within you. It is your story alone.
- Angie Brower- Counselor, LMSW