I got a new pup today. I call him Kintsugi Pup. For my Kintsugi Heart.
Kintsugi: A Japanese tradition of repairing broken pottery bowls by filling in the cracks with gold. It is thought that over time the bowl becomes more lovely as its flaws are mended with this brilliant liquid, creating a beautiful piece of imperfect perfection out of something that was in shards. The art of Kintsugi doesn’t aim to hide that which was shattered, but to illuminate the damage, with the knowledge, that at the end of the process the piece will become more magnificent than it was before.
One need not stretch out and reach too far before grasping the beautiful metaphor Kintsugi holds for the condition of the human heart, for the beautiful heart does not come from that which has never broken, but that which has cracked and fallen to pieces. It is those moments of brokenness that create space for light to shine through, so we can make room for more love.
I made room for more love today in the form of a new friend. A tiny harbinger of love wrapped in a ball of fluff. It was sort of unexpected, yet it was only a matter of time before a furry sidekick made their way into my life; I am definitely a girl who needs a dog.
I had my eye on another guy all week, even applied for adoption, because I was convinced he was my guy. I woke up this morning to a rather crushing email saying somebody else already adopted him, I guess he wasn’t my guy after all. Then I had a plan B, another pup I had been eying. She had some issues with men after being a backyard breeding dog and was a bit shy according to her profile. This seemed to cause concern among people close to me: She sounds too challenging, maybe she has too many behavioral issues, you don’t want that!
I had a rough reaction to all the feedback; it hit me in my most wounded places where I am still letting the light enter, so I pathetically laid in Dog’s tiny bed dolefully sobbing. I bawled for many reasons.
1) I miss my best friend. I am trying to open my heart to a new friend, because I think it is better to share love than hold onto grief, but I didn’t realize adoption would be so hard when I’m in such a fragile space. I didn’t expect to get my hopes up and watch them tumble.
2) I realize I am not in the best space to do a giant search on every rescue site for the “perfect” dog. I’m not sure what that even means, and I certainly don’t have the energy for it. Dog wasn’t perfect, he was a ripe mess when I first got him. It was our imperfect love that really made things perfect in the end.
3). And underneath all those excellent surface reasons, in my heart of hearts, I keep thinking, but I could be this dog.
I have been used and hurt, quite badly at times, by men. Some days it still takes a lot for me to self organize and allow masculine presence into my life. Sometimes I feel scared too, and I want to run away. I’m pushing myself to move past all that and keep reminding myself to keep my heart open, but sometimes I wonder (and half expect)- what if I have too many behavioral issues and am not wanted? Like they don’t want her? Because she is not a clean, shiny bowl anymore? I can relate to this wounded dog. I too have similar wounds in need of more gold.
As I lay crying in Dog’s tiny bed, life feels like too much. I decide to skip the adoption clinic, something I had proactively decided I would go to earlier in the week when I was sure I would get Dog A, and if not that, have a backup plan for Dog B. But after laying on an old, fuzzy blanket that still smells so sweetly like my best friend, I can feel myself closing to life.
Too much, too hard, too soon, I think. Let’s put this new dog thing on hold for awhile, maybe forever. I can’t handle the expectation, pressure and mirror of self this process is holding up to the cracks in my foundation. I had just made up my mind and then a friend of my heart, who knows I am a better BethAnne with a dog, convinced me otherwise: What can it hurt? I’ll go with you.
I walk in and see one small pup. White with a black spot. Crazy, patchy hair. In desperate need of a bath. Wicked under bite. Sharp brown eyes. I hold him as they tell me he has been with them for many months after his previous owners gave him away, because they were elderly and his energy surpassed their capacities.
Since then he has been at the rescue, mostly in a kennel. Nobody wants him even though he’s small, well behaved, and sweet as can be. They tell me everybody thinks he’s ugly, that some people find him odd and strange looking. They want handsome dogs. Pretty dogs. Uncracked bowls. Perfect pieces I suppose.
He stays in my arms a long time. They tell me it is the longest anybody has bothered to hold him. My friend says he’s perfect, and I can’t disagree. He seems pretty comfortable, then he presses his head against my chest the same way Dog always did- Dog was weird and strange looking too. So I decide I should keep holding him as long as I possibly can, as I tell him we understand weird and odd around these parts.
And now we find ourselves stealing glances at one another while I write these words, both of us a little uncertain as to how to proceed, both of us now stuck with one another, both of us wondering who each other is.
The love of any dog is liquid gold, made only of the finest stuff, here to remind us what the word unconditional means. Dog taught me that, giving me pure love which wove itself through my flaws with gleaming care, and as I contemplate my new friend and what lessons he has to teach me, I thoughtfully consider my Kintsugi Heart. I have a feeling if you could take it out for a look you would see a lot of gold throughout.
There are a multitude of stories among the golden seams; the last few years have not been kind to keeping my heart intact, and there is much in me that has felt flawed and broken. Yet I’ve continued to learn that the beautiful thing about life and love is that if one keeps their heart open and finds the courage to stare their flaws in the face and embrace them with compassion, they will eventually find liquid gold. They will come face to face with just how Enough they are.
I may have pieces that broke, but that breaking is precisely what allowed Light to enter, and it is the act of delving into the cracks and fissures, bringing illumination to what feels broken and dark, which creates a beautiful whole.
Our lives: they can become these gorgeous bowls of broken ceramic, mended with gold again and again, if one has the audacity to remain vulnerable and allow the breaking. If one has the boldness to know that healing means staying your course, diving into the pain, finding beauty among the ashes, facing your flaws head on and saying: I see you. You are loved. I am loved. All of me.
The night is still. My new friend is curled into a ball on a blanket staring at me with a curious, open gaze: I can’t wait for the two of us to get to know each other. I stare back at this scraggly, snaggle tooth creature I’ve invited into heart and home; something good has happened here today.
A Kintsugi Pup for my Kintsugi Heart.