UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
News from St Andrew’s
Craig’s September message
Revd Craig Bowman
As I may have mentioned before, one of my favourite television programmes is The Repair Shop. In the programme a group of expert restorers from different disciplines is presented with a beloved object that has deteriorated over time or because of accident, and the programme shows what they manage to do with it. The team always ask what the owner would like them to do with the object, seeking to understand whether they want it to look ‘as good as new’ or, as is usually the case, being sympathetically restored showing the life that has been lived. There are experts in many skills including working with wood, metal, ceramics, fabrics, leather and clocks. However there is one skill that is not present in The Repair Shop. As far as I know they have no one skilled in the art of Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with gold and it treats the breakage and repair as part of the history of an object rather than something to disguise. In fact, by the use of gold, it makes the object more valuable.
The media and commentators are quick to criticise those in the public eye for failings and foibles, even when committed many years before. Whilst I agree that we should all be accountable for the things we say and do, we need to be wary of expecting perfection from others. Duolingo (an app on my phone which is, allegedly, helping to improve my Greek) reminds me from time to time that we are not seeking perfection but rather progression. We are all ‘a work in progress’ and, whilst that helps us to not be overly critical of ourselves, it should also remind us to treat others gently. None of us is perfect and none of us is without damage but the amazing good news of the Gospel is that does not make us less valuable to God, nor should it make us less valuable to others.
Kintsugi highlights the breakages and makes them a cause for celebration and wonder. The mis-steps and stumblings in our lives are the opportunities to recognise where we have something to learn about ourselves, others and our world. Hopefully here we discover something that moves us further in our journey to be more Christlike – we are not perfect but we are making progress. As the Canadian singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen, puts it ‘There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in’.
Let’s remember that we are not perfect, nor are those around us, and see that as an opportunity for growth not a reason to be harsh with ourselves or others.
The Revd Craig Bowman is minister of St Andrew’s Cheam and Wallington United Reformed Churches
Posted on 1 Sep 2021