Beautifully Broken

July 1, 2019 | by jamie beeson

“Ooooh,” he said in his inspired, little voice. I knew that sound. It's the sound made by a little one who can always find treasures wherever we go. It's the sound produced in wonder and awe of the simple, the simply wonderful. I turned to see shiny shards of something broken laying in the parking lot. He was picking up the pieces in his hands as if he had found precious gems. “Look at THIS!” he encouraged. Upon further inspection, it was just metallic plastic that had been run over by rolling tires in a parking lot…unnoticed, unneeded, unwanted. Maybe it was a plastic egg of some sort, once eye-catching to someone …before it was broken. 

As I type those words, I am thinking of my friends and the many women who have described themselves in a very similar way. I am thinking of the times when I’ve felt forgotten, unneeded, and unwanted. I can remember those moments when I felt broken and discarded. I know you do too. Maybe you used to feel special. Perhaps there have been times you thought you had a purpose. But here we are, here you are, left feeling ran over and run down. No longer all together and in perfect condition. Not much to look at and maybe empty and used up.

My son picks up the broken pieces in his tiny hands and says, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Beauty in broken pieces. What a thought. What a gift. What a challenge.

“A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.

The poor, cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream:

'I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.’

The bearer said to the pot, 'Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.' "- Author unknown

Over the last few years, I’ve begun to rewrite the story of imperfections and brokenness. Where once my shattered pieces seemed unneeded and discarded, they began to take a new form, and I have begun to see a new purpose in the pieces.

“There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.” –Leonard Cohen 

Maybe those cracks allow more beauty in, but they also allow more beauty out. Some of the most incredible people in my life have walked through dark seasons and broken places. It's because of the "broken" that I can see a beauty that radiates, and I’ve benefited from their broken.

There is a Japanese philosophy called Wabi Sabi where imperfection is embraced and even cherished. It's a train of thought that causes us to pause the race towards the mirage of perfection and take note of the beauty found in the everyday…found in the imperfect places. It doesn’t just tolerate imperfection, it prizes them.

There is a form of art that exudes this philosophy and is the perfect visual example to me of how I can write the story of my own cracks and flaws. It's called Kintsugi or "golden repair" art. It takes pottery that has cracks and fills the spaces with gold, not in an effort to hide it but to frame it and actually draw attention to the cracks. The belief is that the cracks tell of the story of a journey. The pottery has been passed from hand to hand, from home to home. It has seen and experienced life and love. The gold highlights the story found in the cracks.

A broken egg, a broken water jug, a broken piece of pottery…all used but useful…all broken but beautiful…all crushed but recreated. I am learning more and more each day to embrace my cracks…to let the light in and let the beauty out.

Originally printed in the July 2019 issue of Simply Family Magazine

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