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  • Debbie Cowles

Beauty in the brokenness

Updated: May 24, 2021

It’s been a long year for my wife and me. This time last year our world came crashing down like two cups dropped to the floor. A shock cancer diagnosis knocked us off our feet. It felt like we fell to the floor and broke into many pieces. We have been trying to piece our world and lives back together over this last year through two major surgeries and six chemo treatments and then this ongoing challenge of a pandemic. What a crazy time and unusual year. I am sure some of you are living a tough story as well. I think we need to hear it. From one broken cup to another, let’s be real with each other. None of us have escaped being broken in some way in life and especially over the last year.

The questions I want to ask you are: “How are you fitting your life back together? Is it taking shape or are the broken pieces of your life cup still cutting you as you handle each piece? What is the glue you’re using? Do you have support and encouragement to start to pick up the pieces again? How would you describe yourself?”

Look up “Kintsugi pottery repair”. Kintsugi means “golden joinery” and it is “the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold….” This is a beautiful way of transforming a broken cup or pot, putting it back together with glue and gold. The finished product is astonishing. Something broken is restored to use, but different in looks. The cracks show due to something bright and shining. Gold makes the cracks show up. The broken lines are there, but mended and bringing an amazing look. Wow, cracks not hidden and there for all to see! In fact, “as a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.” What a beautiful idea.


As I read about this artwork, my heart woke up. That is my wife and me after this year. We are broken, but are on the mend. I hope the process will show beauty. I hope what we are learning will help others and that we will be useful again, not sharp and cutting those who touch us. I found it to be such a good object lesson and life lesson for us. This artwork has spoken deeply to my heart.

I just had to put my thoughts down on paper and I thought of you all. I know life and work has chipped and broken you. All of us are that way. I want you to think about yourself and what that might look like to yourself and others. Will others be in awe of your life cup or cut by it? Will it be able to contain something pleasant to refresh others or just leak like a sieve?

As you know, I have a deep faith and hope. It is in Jesus Christ and His forgiveness and life given for us all. I can truly say I have peace in letting Him put us back together and make something good out of our brokenness. He promised to heal the broken-hearted, and I have found that to be so true. What is your hope and faith in? Is it working with your brokenness and stress and fears? Think about it.

(and from Debbie… The cup is my attempt at Kintsugi repair. Steve and I dropped it together to represent the last year and then I spent time glueing it together and thinking how God is healing the broken places in my life and how he is bringing beauty out of brokenness. I thought about this as I used the gold paint as well. Some of the sea glass was gathered at the ocean last year during my chemo journey and the two red heart buttons are to represent Jesus and me. It was a very meaningful craft to do. We just used superglue and then I got gold paint in an applicator for ceramics on Amazon. The part where the cup hit the cement was completely turned to powder and tiny shards, so that’s why I put sea glass and buttons in that hole. But that’s what lets the light out when there is a candle inside. :)





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