Wabi-sabi–the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection. Simple, slow, and uncluttered, it reveres authenticity above all.
There’s a story behind the cracks and imperfections you see in picture of the vessel above. I bought this vase because of the bee on it. A bee symbolizes rebirth and personal growth. Strangely, the day I bought the vase, I learned some things that would change my life forever.
Two months later, I left my marriage and moved to an apartment. A year after that, I was talking to a dear friend on speakerphone as I wrapped dishes in the kitchen, packing everything up for my move to Dallas. Apparently not able to effectively do two things at once, I dropped the vase, and it broke into seven pieces.
“Oh no!” I cried, disappointed at the loss of a vase that held symbolic meaning to me. Then, I remembered wabi sabi–beauty in imperfection–and I decided I would do the best I could to glue it together again. The cracks, and the story behind them would make the vase even more beautiful to me–especially after my friend committed suicide 18 months later. I still don’t know why he took his life, but maybe part of the reason was because he couldn’t accept his own cracks and imperfections.
But I believe that in the stories behind each of our imperfections, there is the beauty of what makes us human.
I also believe that it’s in sharing our weaknesses and imperfections that we make some of our strongest bonds, as discussed in the book, The Spirituality of Imperfection (Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham):
Shared weakness: the shared honesty of mutual vulnerability openly acknowledged. That’s where we connect at the most fundamental level of our very humanness, it is our weakness that makes us alike; it is our strengths that make us different. Acknowledging shared weakness thus creates a rooted connectedness, a sense of common beginnings. We will grow in our different directions with our different strengths, but our roots remain in the same soil as everyone else’s–the earthy humus of our own imperfection.
This weekend, I experienced this kind of sharing and openness when I had the pleasure of driving agent, Jeanie Loiacono and author, Kathleen M. Rodgers to the Ozarks Writers League Conference in Branson.
Kathleen’s courage to write and talk about her past bulimia, as well as the open, honest sharing back and forth of our life stories that took place during the 14-hours of driving time that occurred over the two-day period, gave me the “safety” to be open, to feel a sense of connectedness.
It’s the same with my sisterhood of friends. When I finally found a group of women with whom I didn’t feel I had to live up to any expectations, I felt true connectedness.
One of my sister friends, Linda Apple, this morning, shared on Facebook:
Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps. ― Brennan Manning
I’m grateful for imperfection and for the connectedness it can bring, if we open ourselves to it.