A thing of beauty with Liz Hinds

Hind's Sights



In Japan today there are craftsmen who still practise the 500-year-old art of kintsugi. Broken pottery is repaired using a lacquer made of gold so the mended piece has a beauty of its own. Kintsugi is based on the philo-sophy of wabi sabi, which roughly translated means ‘finding beauty in old or broken things’.

I have now reached the age when I look best in the dark. Some mornings standing in front of the mirror I am appalled to see this wrinkled, saggy-jowled, grey old woman looking back at me. And that’s even before I’ve put on my glasses and can see my hairy chin and eye lines – or laughter lines as I prefer to think of them.

So you can understand why I would be attracted by a craft that seeks to find beauty in old or broken things.

The western world seems obsessed with perfect-ion. Or at least that’s the impression the media gives. If they’re not showing us photo-shopped images of slim, glamorous (and rich) people they’re revelling in telling us how fat/scrawny some C list celebrity has become. Even Good Housekeeping, which used to be the Bible for the ordinary woman, had on one of its recent covers the head-line, ‘Younger prettier happier!’ along with a promise of ‘Natural anti-ageing beauty break-throughs’. Is that what we all want? Is that all we want?

But I admit I’ve fallen for it. All those adverts for hair conditioners that leave you with glossy locks, fillers that get rid of wrinkles – ‘even deep set ones’ – and make-up that gives your skin that porcelain look: I’ve bought them. And guess what? They didn’t work. Although to be fair and to avoid danger of being sued, the face creams may have worked if I’d remembered to use them more than once every three months.

The stained glass window and cross at Zac’s Place

I mentioned in my first article for Bay that I am part of the church that meets at Zac’s Place. If you ever come into Zac’s you may notice a cross on the wall. So, you may say, that’s normal for a church building. But this cross is slightly different from most you’ll see. In fact it’s unique.

It was made from driftwood and old rope that had been washed up on the beach. You’ll find a similar one in Linden Church in West Cross but each is distinct, depending on the wood and rope found. These crosses may not have been manufactured to high standards nor intricately carved but both have a special meaning and worth.

Again, if you walk past the main door of Zac’s and look up you’ll notice a stained glass window. If you get the chance, go in and ask if you can see it. When Sean Stillman, leader of the church at Zac’s, commissioned it he asked the artist to use bits of glass he had left-over lying around in his studio, bits that would otherwise have been thrown away. The end result is a beautiful multi-colour-ed window that highlights the amazing creativity of God.

In both these cases, the cross and the window, the maker took some rubbish and turned it into a thing of beauty, something special that could be appreciated and valued for what it is.

As I write this article it’s the evening of Good Friday and my thoughts are naturally on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The risen Christ is, as we’d put it today, damaged goods. He bears the scars of his crucifixion, visible for eternity.

He’s God; he could easily have made the marks disappear – without the help of any wonder cream – but that’s not the point. The scars are a lasting reminder of what he went through for us, both physically and emotionally.

Remember in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus, who knew what was coming, asked God if he really had to go through with all this, the pain and the separation from his father.

We all bear scars of past hurt. In some they may be obvious, displayed either physically or through behaviour; in others the pain is so deeply buried that it only emerges in the most desperate situations. But we all have those scars whether we admit it or not.

Also, sadly, there are many of us who have been told so often that we’re rubbish that we believe it. But, like the washed-up driftwood and the broken shards of glass, we can be transformed by the Maker into a thing of beauty.

Jesus never promised to get rid of our wrinkles – think of the following he’d have if he had – but God wants to welcome us, with our flaws, our imperfections, our pain, our wrong-doing, and reveal our true beauty.

And if I can just remember that next time I visit the supermarket I may be able to resist buying the cream that makes seventy-nine-year-old Jane Fonda look fabulous.


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