Emily has this wonderful ability to sculpt, shape, rework and finely tune beautifully articulate updates of our journey with Ned’s cancer. While deeply personal she always captures so clearly, and expresses so eloquently what I often fumble to express myself.
It is in another format that I have found myself naturally shaping and forming an expression of what I have been feeling and wrestling with over the last few months. This sculpture is a work I felt I needed to create, one that shares with you ideas of strength, loss and how we hold it all together.
For a long time, and especially in the last couple of months I (as well as Emily) have felt quite fragile, and that each day we are just holding ourselves together for Ned, for Lucy, Eleanor and Gilbert. A fragility borne of days, weeks, months, years of battling this cancer and all the implications of that for our family.
I recently came across Kintsugi; I’d seen it before, but it captured my attention again as I saw in it ideas that resonated with my own thinking on strength, resilience and redemption.
Kintsugi is a form of pottery where old broken ceramic works are repaired with gold dust, lacquer and resin, thus creating a restored or redeemed version of the old piece. The philosophy behind this is the idea of embracing imperfection, that the cracks and repairs are events in life and help shape who we are.
Alongside this concept consider the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans where he talks about suffering:
“ …but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3b-5)
I would hope that the suffering we have endured as we have all traveled with Ned, all the pain, loss, upheaval, isolation, sadness, and immense sickness would build something into the character of all of us. And would draw out that strength that God has written into our DNA.
The gaps in the sculpture, the missing pieces in the sculpted face: these represent the things we’ve lost in this difficult journey. The dreams and goals that have been abandoned, the careers put on hold, the school life for our children interrupted, their friendships and milestones missed, the sense of home stalled, the skill building hours lost, important events missed, and so on.
Kintsugi pottery it’s about restoration, the gold and resin patches the cracks, puts the fragmented pieces back together. The cracks, the suffering, become lines of gold; redeeming us into something new. And this is the work of God in us, putting us back together, holding us together through those cracks. Just as the Apostle Paul says it’s about shaping our character. And this is what my piece is about. God gluing me back together, the great Kintsugi master of us all.
God rebuilds me through the inspiration of my amazing wife. A woman of gumption who motivates me to be a better husband, better father and better man every day.
The prayers of many and the friends who diligently call or text; these refresh me.
The excited embrace of my daughters and their laughter at my jokes, or full body smile from baby son, or the whispered ‘I love you Daddy’ from Ned as I carry him to the bathroom; these repair me.
And finally it is in those few rare moments of time that I have to create art I find restoration: for through the creation of objects I am reminded of the Creator himself and am restored.