Last night, my 3rd grader reports she’s learning all about wabi-sabi in her art class. I’ve never heard of the concept, so we research this Japanese aesthetic.
We learn that wabi-sabi–at least in art–encourages the acceptance of imperfect, aged, or broken things. In fact, if a teacup you’re creating breaks apart, the Japanese artist would simply amplify the broken places and point them out by filling the cracks with pure gold.
My daughter tells me that you know it’s wabi-sabi if it’s not perfect. It’s beautiful if it’s broken or old. Strange, odd, imperfect: I think of Hopkins’ poem “Pied Beauty.” The odd thing reflects God’s grace the most.
I think, too, of the beauty and even the necessity of frailty and imperfection as we approach God. I read in Psalm 79:8 how the poet cries out, “May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” It’s a poem beautiful in its desperation.
Desperate, of course, means you feel hopeless or that you’re in a situation that’s impossible to manage. It’s OK to feel this way. It’s OK to feel broken, old, desperate, and beyond repair.
I think of that teacup that only receives the gold if it breaks apart.