24th July: It is ok to not be ok
I wonder how many of you have come across the wonderful Japanese art of Kintsugi? The most basic idea of this art is to take a piece of pottery that has broken and put it back together using gold. The gold accentuates the cracks within the pottery and does not just mend it but restores it and altogether makes into a unique piece of art.
But there is an in-depth contemplative and spiritual side to this art that is frequently glossed over. The artist takes each piece of broken pottery and examines it. He or she ascertains the history of the piece, and the parts that need more care before piecing the pieces back together. By using gold, the cracks are highlighted as scars of worth.
And so it is with us. Our experiences define us; our encounters with each other have an effect on who we are and our behaviour. When we struggle with our lives, as many of us have done during Lockdown, we may experience some sort of breakdown. This is natural, particularly under such stresses as may have been placed upon us over the past few months. If you can identify with this, please reach out. This state of brokenness is experienced by most of us at some point of our lives.
The art of building lives back together, carefully, restoratively, is both at the heart of mental health charities and the Church. By acknowledging our needs we can reach out for help. We can rebuild our lives, and we do so in a way that incorporates our scars. Our experiences are important and can help us form a closer knit society and Church that listens, nurtures and is inclusive.
I believe that God’s grace is generous in its abundance. That God’s love is for every human regardless of sexuality, nationality, colour and so on. This is unconditional love and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is at the heart of restoration, the contemplative life and Christian spirituality.
One of the things I remember reading near the start of this lockdown was a conversation from a mother to her daughter. Her daughter was bored, soon after the lockdown began. The mother urged her daughter to keep a journal because she said that in decades to come, the daughter would recall the events around the pandemic and relay them to her grandchildren. Into that journal would go the best and the worst, because that is what happens when you write a journal. Emotions and facts are poured into the pages, that as soon as the page is turned, are kept hidden, until years later.
The period of lockdown has been quite divisive in some ways. Opinions have become polarised, and issues that appeared to be buried have risen to the fore where they have been, quite rightly, addressed to a greater or lesser degree.
This includes the yearning to go back to ‘normal.’ But what is normal? Personally, I don’t want to go back to what was perceived as normal as I found it exclusive, sometimes elitist. Various sectors of society were not included in the activities I found myself associated with due to existing prejudices. This is not the ‘normal’ I want or would wish others to grow up in.
As the easing of lockdown gathers pace, now is the time we should ask ourselves what prejudices we can discard? Secondly, how do we wish to go forward? Lastly, what can we do to ensure that no-one is left behind?
Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of love, grace and compassion and being abundantly generous in our approach to others. Might I suggest that by including these in all we do and say, our actions will help each other adjust to the new ‘normal’ post lockdown.