I recently paid a visit to Doebakehouse on Layerthorpe to try their pottery painting. I’d intended to do one of their Restore mugs and support our partnership with them. They’d sold out the particular day I was there (with was sad for me, but great news for the success of the partnership, and fear not reader, they are now back in stock!) so I perused the other pottery wares on offer and chose a slightly chipped mug, which was being sold at a discount (well, I am a Yorkshire woman, after all!). As I painted, I found myself wondering what to do with the chip. Do I try to disguise it, or make a feature of it? That got me thinking.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Japanese philosophy ‘Kintsugi’? It started out as a method for mending broken ceramic items in order to prolong their usefulness. Instead of trying to hide the imperfection caused by the break, Japanese craftspeople would mix gold dust into the lacquer so that when they glued the piece back together, the join where the break had been would be a feature, rather than a flaw. It repairs the brokenness in such a way that enhances the object, oftentimes making it even more beautiful than it was before the breakage occurred. The philosophy treats the breakage as part of the history of the object, and sees repair not as something to be disguised, but celebrated.
It is this philosophy that has sparked the ‘Kintsugi Hope’ movement. Founded by Diana and Patrick Regan following some difficult personal circumstances, Patrick describes their vision in this way:
“All of us have broken pieces, but instead of hiding them, we can learn from them. We can discover treasure in our scars.”
Kintsugi Hope’s mental well-being groups were established to help people who are struggling connect with one another. Through the local church network, they aim to provide a safe space for people to receive support when they are finding life difficult, and to promote a deeper understanding of God’s love for each and every one of us. The twelve-week course is designed to help people understand their value and worth to God, and to encourage participants to accept themselves, moving forward in hope, with a more resilient outlook for the future.
York Community Church is a Kintsugi Hope partner and runs the twelve-week course regularly. Many Restore residents have participated in and benefitted from it. The residents who engage with our support most successfully are those who are honest about their pasts. They are clear that Jesus’ forgiveness is life-changing good news; and that His power to mend our brokenness is far greater than any ‘quick fix’ we fashion ourselves. Our brokenness becomes beautiful precisely because He is the one who binds our wounds.
Of course, the idea of helping people in their brokenness to find a way to move forwards is exactly what Restore is all about too. Just as the Kintsugi craftsperson takes a piece of broken pottery – one that many other people would have cast aside – and gives it a renewed sense of purpose; so we at Restore help people that society has overlooked to find restoration, renewed purpose and hope in Jesus. In helping people to acknowledge the broken aspects of their past, we seek to support them whilst they stick the pieces back together, until they can move on with resilience and strength for the future.
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