My second grade art teacher taught me a great lesson. Having messed up my drawing, I wanted another sheet of paper. But she refused, saying: “You can make something out of this.” I protested. She insisted. She wasn’t being stingy with supplies. She was teaching me a wonderful truth: You can turn something messed up into something beautiful.
Jesus certainly did that with Thomas. Jesus repaired a shattered faith. Jesus turned something broken into something beautiful.
Transforming brokenness into beauty: There’s an art form devoted to that: Kintsugi – in Japanese it means “to join with gold.” Kintsugi potters take broken vessels and reassemble them.
But the damage isn’t disguised. Instead, ceramic lacquer is mixed with gold to glue pieces together. When finished, the fault lines shine. The vessel is again in one piece, brightly veined with gold. Kintsugi recognizes that brokenness is not a defect, but the means by which a deeper beauty can emerge.
Jesus is a Kintsugi master: In repairing Thomas’ broken belief, Jesus doesn’t take away Thomas’ pain. Jesus joins Thomas’ pain to his mercy. The past is not erased, but it is joined to a future which can be different – because healing can happen. That’s what Easter is. That’s what Jesus is offering us now.
We’re all broken. We’ve made horrible mistakes. We’ve badly hurt others. Our three-steps-forward, two-steps-back lives are stained and imperfect. Our failure, shame, and despair are compounded by our culture, which values youth, newness, success, and perfection. If we’re not-so-new; if we’ve endured setbacks and accumulated scars; we often feel like broken china, irreparably damaged and destined for the trash.
But Jesus doesn’t see us that way. Yes, he sees our scars – because he has scars, too. The Risen Christ has the mark of the nails in his hands and side. Those are still part of him, but the Resurrection has made him whole, scars and all. And that is what the Resurrection is still doing today.
Our Risen Savior lives to love us back into life. He takes our broken lives and fills the cracks with his healing love, which is the golden glue that binds us together. Because of Jesus’ Easter victory, we can trust that his love will prevail.
But what about now? COVID-19 has separated us and shattered the status quo. Like Thomas, we despair.
This is where Jesus meets us. This is how Resurrection happens: When imperfect, struggling souls open their hearts to Christ, asking to be forgiven, healed, and loved, God meets us. Our brokenness is where Easter happens today.
If you feel both broken and loved, then you see yourself as God does. But God doesn’t despise your brokenness – because that is precisely where your best self, your deepest strength, and your life’s truest beauty can flourish.
The Catholic writer Teilhard de Chardan said, “Trust in the slow work of God.” God’s healing takes time. Fresh, painful wounds don’t disappear overnight. But healing does come. Trust that. Live into that. Cooperate with that. Give the broken pieces of your life to Christ. He will make them beautiful and make you whole. Christ will love you back into life. He will bind your brokenness unto a brilliant resurrection.