Refill with Randy – the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold

By Orleans Hub Posted 23 April 2023 at 6:02 pm

Good evening! Grab your favorite cup. Fill it up. And let’s start this week right… TOGETHER!!!

Today I would like to share with you about Kintsugi. It is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold and translates as, “better for having been broken” or “beautifully broken”. Rather than throwing something away because it breaks, as we are often accustomed of doing in our society, the Japanese believe that the broken item has not lost its usefulness so they not only fix it but highlight the “scars” by using gold. This process actually makes the pottery much more valuable than it was to begin with. (Pictured below are a couple of pieces that I had commissioned from an artist in Oregon whose signature style is leave a little piece left out to highlight that something is still missing. On the right is me and my friend Kyle Holz holding a piece that we would give to a couple whose daughter passed away in Hospice care).

One of the reasons why I am drawn to this art form, outside of its beauty, is because it reminds me that we too as people are often broken by the things of this world but that does not mean that we have lost our usefulness or should have to hide our scars.  In fact, I believe that if we allow ourselves to heal from whatever has caused our hurts that we too can find ourselves “better for having been broken” because we learned a lesson that we can then use to help others going through similar circumstances.

I experienced this firsthand when, back in 2012, my father whom I had taken care of for the past decade died suddenly and then, less than 24 hours later, my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Just like that it felt like my world had turned upside down and that was only the start. After my father’s funeral I immediately went to the hospital where my mother was having a softball-sized brain tumor removed and, when the plan we had worked out for rehab after fell apart, we then moved my mother into our home where for the next few months she would get daily radiation treatments and oral chemo. Finally, after the cancer not only came back but had metastasized to her lungs, we stopped all treatments and contacted our local Hospice for help.

The Hospice Team was great as they set up necessary equipment in our home, set up nursing visits, and even provided volunteers to sit with mom so that my family and I could have periods of respite. I had worked alongside Hospice at times as a pastor but this was the first time I had engaged with them as a caregiver and I was so grateful for all that they provided. Eventually though, as the cancer progressed, it was time for the next step which would be to move mom into a hospice home. Unfortunately for us the Martin-Linsen Residence, which is less than 2 miles from our home, was still in the process of being built back then but thankfully a bed opened up at The Aurora House in Spencerport. By moving mom there it allowed me to not only stay on site with her but, for those final two weeks, I also got to be a son again and not simply a caregiver. It was a great gift that would not be forgotten.

When mom passed I felt empty and broken but over time The Lord helped me heal and eventually even grieve my father’s death which had been delayed due to focusing all my attention on the parent who was still alive at the time. Since then I have had all three of my brothers pass away as well as other family and friends. It still hurts each and every time but, rather than becoming bitter, I chose to allow my scars make me better.

Ten years after being cared for so lovingly by the staff and volunteers at Hospice, currently called Supportive Care of Orleans (Hospice), I started working there myself as the Spiritual Care & Bereavement Coordinator. It is not as easy job to say the least but it is something that I believe I am called and equipped for because of, and not in spite of, my scars.

Over the past 15+ months I have had the opportunity to come beside hundreds of patients and family members as they begin their own journey of grief and loss and the reason I believe that I am able to continue doing it day after day is because I made the choice to use the lessons learned during my own time of brokenness and beyond to help others in the midst of their hurt—to offer them hope and healing. I pray that each of you will choose to do the same.

See you in two weeks!
Pastor Randy