Kintsugi: Focusing on the Cracks
I was surviving fast and testimony meeting ok and then it came… The testimony that went something like this, “I visited another church and didn’t really learn anything new and I’m so glad to be a member of the ONLY true church, because while other churches may have nuggets of truth, OURS has ALL because when the apostasy happened truth shattered and with the restoration we were given a new vase.”
I remember this analogy. I’m pretty sure I used a version of it on my mission. But as one who attends another denomination regularly and doesn’t believe the “only true church” rhetoric, the testimony felt a little smug and left me in a grumpy mood.
BREATHE. I made it through church and joined a couple of friends in the hall who were talking about some of the things that need to change in the church and what they were doing about it. That conversation went something more like, “The church is not perfect and if so, what would be the point for us? We have work to do!” That conversation was balm for my weary soul.
So maybe the church isn’t this perfect vase that was restored in perfect form to Joseph Smith that could be a perfect receptacle for all the wisdom God intends to pour down on humanity. Maybe the church is a broken vase lying in fragments on the ground and there’s still a lot of work to do to piece it into the shape God has in mind.
I love the Japanese art of Kintsugi: repairing broken pottery and highlighting the cracks with gold. Behind this practice is the philosophy that breaks and flaws don’t need to be disguised, but can add value to a piece and witness that the object is worth repairing.
To me the Church feels like a broken vessel on the floor, surrounded by a million hands sorting through the pieces, doing the hard work of setting things right. Some are weary. Some are angry and have left the work. I can only thank them for their efforts, having also tasted sorrow and pain. There are days when policy changes, reports of abuse, or gender issues feel like a hammer coming down to smash the shards that are left into something that feels beyond fixing.
But I do have hope. Like with kintsugi, a broken object can become more beautiful as the flaws are acknowledged and repaired. I believe in a God who can work wonders with any material. Even shards of a vase.