News, Connections and Photos from the life of the faith community at CAPC Oakland
We’re talking about legacy – which can be both positive and negative – a loaded idea. “First, it means what you leave behind to your heirs (the inheritance or gift). And second, one can also have a terribly negative legacy—the bad stuff that passes on from generation to generation (the effect, the outcome, the awful con-sequence of a personal or family way of being in the world).”
We’re using the Japanese art form and philosophical idea of Kintsugi (金継ぎ) to talk about the legacy of this past year. Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. As a philosophy, it’s about embracing flaws, imperfections, “broken-ness” then blessing, keeping, and restoring them – quite possibly even making the item (person, community) stronger.
The prophet Jeremiah was sent by God to interact with a potter who repaired and replaced broken pottery. It was a prophetic action speaking to Israel of what God intended for them as a community in the exile to Babylon. They were broken in a way that only God could repair, restore and make whole.
The story of the opening of the eyes of the blind man by Jesus in Mark 8 tells a story of Kintsugi. A generic group of “some people” bring the blind man to Jesus for help. They must be at their wit’s end, or exhausted all their resources to help this person that they obviously love. They don’t ask Jesus. They beg him. I picture them on their knees, with tears in the eyes and in their quivering voices. Jesus responds by acting. He takes the man by his hand, and uses his saliva as a balm. (Sound gross to us, and it was a commonly practiced therapeutic method in the ancient world).
Then Jesus heals him. But it doesn’t seem to take, or be complete. It takes a second touch of Jesus to open the eyes of the man in totality. What’s that about? Is it because the blindness was so bad? Did the man not know how to articulate his vision? Was there a legacy of brokenness that took extra effort to break down? And then Jesus tells the man not to go back to the village from which he came. Isn’t this the place from which people (maybe his neighbors) brought him? Is there some sort of bad legacy there, or in his life there? He’s then broken open to a new future which requires letting go of the past.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
Much thanks to Marji Wilkens for permitting me to quote her words and for her help in shaping my thoughts.