Cracked

The dirt road undulated below my feet as I walked around the lake. Fresh rainwater had puddled in the troughs, and I had to step carefully in sections that were peppered with the mirrored holes. As the dirt gave way to pavement, the crests were highlighted by cracking of the surface.

Frost heaves.

Signs on the drive in warned of these winter formations, and I had the privilege of experiencing their roller coaster ride on my drive to the retreat center. On my own two feet, interacting with them was much more pleasant. The rise and fall gave the perfect rhythm for my own thoughts to flow as I moved, and I began to realize how much my own life feels like that pavement right now.

Cracked. Broken. Fragmented. Water-filled holes that feel like chasms in which I am barely treading water.

My thoughts at the time were more focused on where the harshness of the winter had caused the road to buckle and bend, and I am reminded now of how I also tend to focus on the hard parts of my life. I have cracks from previous times of winter that seem to never fully heal, and the fact that I am currently going through one as well only seems to tear up old fixes rather than repair the new problems.

When will this winter end? When will repavement begin? Will this just get broken again?

The morning retreat speaker had talked about kintsugi, a pottery repair technique the Japanese originating in the 15th Century where craftsmen would careful join the broken pottery pieces together again with gold. It was through highlighting the cracks in this manner that the pottery was viewed as being even more beautiful than before. I quickly fell in love with this imagery, and as I walked about the lake, every divide in the pavement reminded me of it.

We are all cracked in some way. We all go through winters that tear us up. How we respond to them, though, how we remember those cracks or let them affect us shapes the kind of people we are. And we can choose how we want to respond to them.

As I sit and reflect further about my walk around the lake, I am remembering better the road I actually traveled; I can see it for more than just those isolated cracks. There were points of beauty along the way: reflections in puddles, sunshine spilling through clouds, the swaying and creaking of branches as the wind rushed through. The road itself was also whole more than it was broken, and even its brokenness did not limit its purpose and function for me. Indeed, it helped tell a story of survival in the midst of trying times.

I want the same to be said for my own life. Things this time round seem to be different, from how I’m handling those issues heaving up like the frost to even peripheral circumstances. And I hope that is the change that will help me to handle these dark seasons better or maybe even one day to not have to handle them at all. Hearing about kintsugi, it got me thinking that maybe I have tried too long to mend my cracks with clay, that I have tried to hide what has happened. But I think the key for me lies in mending with gold.

I struggle with unworthiness, with the idea that I do not matter. Mending with this rich metal reminders me that I am worth such a cost and effort. I struggle with being open and vulnerable with people. While there indeed is a time and place to be transparent and I’m not advocating imprudence in the matter, I can see times where I was afraid to show my cracks and that hindered the friendship from growing.

Recently, a few folks have briefly shared about their own dark times, and I felt very encouraged by it because it reminded me that I am not alone in what I am experiencing. They let their cracks filled with gold show, and I want to do the same for others. I’m not fully sure how to begin this melding process or what it may look like for me, but I have hope that even by writing about it here, I am starting on that path.

What cracks do you have that you are trying to hide? How might sharing them with others help not only you, but them as well?

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