The Power of the Broken Places: Mending the Cracks with Gold

Last night, the unthinkable happened. America fractured. At current count, 59,611,678 people went Red. 59,814,018 went Blue. And because we like to complicate things, the country is going to the Man in Red. 59,611,678 to 59,814,018. That is nearly exactly split in half.

There is a great big crack down the center of us.

And I feel afraid. I feel scared and broken and rageful and despairing and lost and betrayed. What happened to my country? How could this have come to pass? How did we let this happen? And more fear comes. What will happen next?

I start to look for reasons. For people to blame. It's could they have voted for this man? How could they not see through the lies? How could they treat her like that? How could they vote third party in a battleground state!?! I did the right thing, I did my part...where were you? WHAT DID YOU DO?

And then I have to take a step back. It's them. THEM. That word. That concept. The other who is not like me. The other who is to be blamed and feared. The other who is wrong, when I am right. That thinking is what has brought us to this place. That THEM has split us in half. 

Whenever I talk with clients about feeling broken, I always talk about the power of the broken places. When we are broken down we are, by definition, flexible. We are in a million metaphorical pieces, and we can choose to put those pieces back together in any way we choose. 

It is how we choose to mend our brokenness that determines our future. 

During my time in Japan, one of the most beautiful things I discovered was the ceramic art of Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi meaning to join or repair with gold. This art takes broken pottery pieces and puts them back together with lacquer mixed with gold powder. The goal is to actually highlight the crack, believing that the breaks are merely a part of the rich history of an object, not something to hide. 

I love this metaphor for healing. It is how we put ourselves back together, what we use to join the pieces that has the potential to make us stronger, more beautiful and more perfect for our history of struggle. 

But how do we do that now? How do we mend the cracks with gold?

The answer is simple, and oh so difficult. We choose our best self. We act from all the kindness and empathy we can muster. We refuse the word THEM and instead choose US. We listen more than we try to be heard. We speak up for those that have quieter voices or no voice. We do not run from conflict but we respect the stances of others, even if we cannot understand them. We grieve and cry and hold each other and then we get up, and pick up the pieces, and mend. We make space for difference. We commit to the long haul. We trust that profound change takes time. We have faith. We love.

Maya Angelou says, "Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time."

I do not know what the future will be. But I do believe that if we can move away from fear and blame and move towards empathy and love, we will become stronger than we were before this break. 

This is my gold. This is how I hope to heal this big crack in myself. One choice of empathy at a time.

What will your gold be?