Kintsugi: Golden Cracks

Uncategorized Apr 12, 2020

I have scars.

Physical scars from a massive stroke, a brutal battle with breast cancer and from growing babies in my womb. From loving my body, then hating it then loving it again throughout my life.

I have emotional scars from a childhood spent with a father who has never viewed me as good enough and a family that brings me deep grief. From school years filled with few friends and many bullies. From divorce. From facing my own mortality.

I have spiritual scars from going to church alone as a child because my parents and sibling never felt a longing for God like I have. From bouncing from religion to religion and church to church looking for a purpose from something greater than myself.

I have mental scars from struggling as a single Mom. From worrying endlessly about my career. Well, face it, worrying endlessly about everything. I am a woman after all…

I looked at my life as if it were pieces of a plate that has been dropped and shattered. All of my imperfections laying there on the ground for everyone to see. A plate that once was valuable, is now useless.

I felt shame for my scars. I tried to cover them. Disguise them. Blame others for them. I knew the world viewed my flaws and mistakes and brokenness as ugly.


Then I learned of—and embraced—the Japanese concept of Kintsugi (pronounced kin-su-jee).

Kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride. It is the art of mending broken objects with liquid gold or silver. The Japanese believe that when something has suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.

When an object is put back together using Kintsugi it is stronger where it once was broken. The veins of gold are a place of beauty. The story of its brokenness is now highlighted and there is an understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

(link to > video above by The School of Life about Kintsugi)


Our Scars Matched

A few months after my mastectomy I was at the Rec Center doing some swimming to try and stretch the muscles back out and train for an upcoming sprint triathlon. I was sore and tired and wanted to change unnoticed in the locker room and go home.

As I stood at my locker I noticed another woman on the same aisle struggling to get her swimsuit top off while keeping herself wrapped in a towel. I kind of smirked and thought she was being ridiculous as there are changing rooms. I headed towards them to change out my own wet swimsuit. They were all full!

So I returned to my locker and contemplated my next move. I could wait but I just wanted to get home. I could drive home in a wet swimsuit but I knew I could get chaffed and I was already hurting. So I took a deep breath and pulled off my swim top to expose my chest of scars and missing breasts. Have you ever taken off a wet swimsuit? It is not a fast process and an awkward struggle. As I wrangled my top off I caught the look of the woman on my aisle. I was in no mood for an awkward exchange so I turned and faced her straight on so she could just see the whole show and get it over with.

To my total surprise, she began to grin ear-to-ear and finished pulling her own swimsuit off and faced me straight on.

I grinned back. Our scars matched.

She mouthed “thank you.” And I nodded back.

We didn’t need to speak. We knew each other’s story. We knew what the scars meant. We spoke the same language of strength and courage and love and gratitude. In our eyes our scars were gold. What was once broken was now beautiful!

Is It Your Turn?

As you look at your own broken plate on the floor take some time, actually all the time you need, to put the pieces back together. Treat them as valuable. Tell your story. Use precious things like gratitude, strength, resilience, patience, and love to piece back together your new work of art.

Let everyone see the cracks because that is where love seeps in.

Top image courtesy of Aimee Vogelsang

Plate image courtesy of Chuttersnap

Third image courtesy of The School of Life

Bowl image [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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