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Broken Beauty

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (St Paul)

The quote above was in last week’s meditation and it started me thinking about the idea of imperfection as beauty. The first image here shows a mended bowl using the Japanese concept of Kintsugi, the ‘art of precious scars’. When the Japanese break a bowl or other valued and fragile item, they mend it meticulously. But rather than trying to hide the mend, they highlight it with gold leaf, perhaps celebrating the history of that object.

The second picture shows a mosaic piece I made with community groups in Bradford. Mosaic gains its individuality and beauty from the use of broken pieces of tiles, pottery and mirror. Often the effect is jumbled and confusing as its being made, but when completed, the overall effect can be utterly stunning. Standing back, away from the necessarily close-up process of fitting together various pieces of broken ceramic and glass, the whole picture is revealed.

Lori Jenessa Nelson writes “When life explodes around me and I am left, like glass, shattered among the ruins of my experience, I will slowly gather up the fragments. I’ll take them to a quiet space and lay them reverently before me. I’ll look at them and note the colour and shape and character of every broken shard, and I will set to work. Those who know me might say ‘they aren’t having an easy life’ but they won’t consider me broken. Instead, they will look in wonder and delight upon the mosaic I’ve created from the fragments of my hurting self, the stained-glass images catching the light, dancing colour upon the world, and they will be amazed, saying “what a wonderful work of art”.

St Paul continues his reflection on his own personal brokenness saying “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that divine power may rest on me. That is why I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Take time to look at the pictures and consider these questions:

- Where do you feel weak? where are your strengths?

- Where do you feel you or the world are broken?

- Can you see where beauty is being revealed?

Meditative Action:

You will need newspapers, magazines and images from last year, scissors, gluestick and piece of paper.

- Take some time to choose some pictures and /or text from your magazines or newspapers that speak to you about life over the last year

- Cut up the pictures and reassemble them to make a new picture

- How does it feel to cut up your meanings?

- What is the experience of reassembling like?

- Where are the precious scars?

This meditation is commissioned by Leeds Methodist Mission

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