I’m the kind of girl who would prefer to spend a large portion of the food budget in an op shop and go hungry for the rest of the week. I do love food but much more than food, I love all things vintage, and I love bargains. A quick stop at an op shop guarantees at least one of my loves satisfied in an instant.
A few years ago when my son was only four, he was hurt and crying after an unkind social incident but, as he recovered, managed to get a few words together to say, “I really want to go to an op shop now”. Nature and nurture at play there!
I have a few standard searches every time I cross the thrift shop threshold to feed my addiction. Mainly, I search for crockery from the 1930’s or 40’s and only ever buy finds with orange and green designs. I have my boundaries set tight! After years of dedication to my disease, I have a mismatched dinner set of plates from the same era, with the same colour themes but from all over the country. It brings me far more joy than anything in a supermarket.
Last week after a coffee catch up, I wandered across the road to our local ‘oppy’ (as they call it in the online forums for people like me) for a quick look-see.
It was like they knew I was coming. On the top shelf in bric-a-brac were two sets of matching sandwich plates and a cake platter all in desirable colours. For the price of two coffees, these seven items were coming home to Mumma.
The emotional feeling of returning to your car with something of great worth bought with a few coins from your purse is my drug of choice. Last Tuesday I was particularly giddy with excitement. So giddy that when I passed the bag from one hand to the other to open the car door…I dropped the bag. The tinkling of antique ceramic was both delicate and horrifying. I gathered the victims from the asphalt offender and gave the bag a gentle jiggle to confirm my suspicions that the plates had smashed.
At home, I dug out two survivors from the rubble. The rest were laid to rest.
My photojournalism account on social media drew out real grief from soul sisters. One friend even used the word “tragic”. Another friend used the word “Kintsugi”. Heh?
The Japanese philosophy of Kintsugi treats breakage and repair entirely different to the returns policy of David Jones. A patched-up 1930’s sandwich plate would be something of increased value and nothing to disguise. In fact, highly visible cracks and joins are laced with precious metals. Just as my Caucasian aesthetic was thinking my plates were ruined and useless, a northern Asian mind would be planning some gold smelting. They’ve been into upcycling since the late fifteenth century.
It strikes me that every parent of a toddler would do well to embrace Kintsugi.
Furniture upcycled with permanent marker? Magnificent!
Mobile phone screens with shattered glass? Sublime!
Chewing the corners off the Draw Four Wildcards in Uno? Brilliant!
Kintsugi acknowledges and welcomes the reality that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Flaws are the basis of beauty.
These seams of gold than run through the cracks are value-added splendour. It’s like the repair lines narrate the life of the object, refusing to mark its death. The day of breakage is an event to highlight in an episode of ‘This Is Your Life’ for bowls. Restoration is glorious.
Even though I’m a lover of vintage, worn out, chipped, scuffed and beaten up treasures, I’m not into broken. Broken is ruined and destroyed. Dead.
There have been a few times in my life where my brokenness felt like a death. Unbearable.
The Japanese art of embracing damage in a restorative act is a bang-on spiritual picture for us.
Breakage and repair; our history and hope.
The way Romans put words around it is like this;
All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
It’s Christ’s ‘golden joinery’ on us. Working in precious and incredible ways to piece back our fragments to form a new life with Him.