Some time ago, I was reading about different cultural customs unique to a specific area and became completely fascinated about the Japanese art of Kintsugi.
Most of us are aware that the Japanese people have a formal tea ceremony. This ceremony has many nuisances that can be over looked by Westerners. The formal tea ceremony is one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement. I am often intrigued by the cinematic representations of such a ceremony, its beauty and simplicity.
Because of the importance of the tea ceremony, the Japanese culture has a reverence for all the utensils and components involved. This is illustrated in the Japanese art of Kintsugi. This art takes a broken tea cup and “glues” the pieces together with gold. The broken teacup, therefore, is worth more than the whole one. The brokenness increases its value.
I am reminded of this as I continue my series on prayer as described in “13 Powerful Ways to Pray” by Father Eamon Tobin. Let us now turn to the Prayer of Intercession. This is the prayer we say for other people and their needs. We see this in the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana where the Blessed Mother turns to Jesus and says, “They have no more wine!” She expects Jesus to remedy the problem, and He does!
In this form of prayer, we can identify in a spirit of solidarity, with individuals who are suffering. We actually enter into their pain and present their needs to God. Intercessory prayer is similar to petitionary prayer, but it does not center on ourselves; it focuses on others. Like petitionary prayer, intercessory prayer is not a matter of multiplicity, but of love.
Offering prayers for the needs of others stems from our “common priesthood” as a result of our baptism. We can offer prayers for others out of our weaknesses, giving grace and healing to them as well as to ourselves.
I like to ponder it through this perspective: Jesus was completely surrendered to the will of God. His entire life and ministry was to complete the will of the Father, 100%! Yet, as He traveled to Calvary, His human body could not withstand the brutality of the process. He needed someone to help Him. That someone was Simon of Cyrene. Jesus needed help from a human person to assist Him in doing what He knew He had to do. Simon is the physical form of the intercessory prayer that we pray for others, assisting them in their need.
The same goes for us. As we pray intercessory prayers for others, our personal brokenness unites with those for whom we pray. We help them carry their crosses, and our brokenness is filled with grace. This grace transforms brokenness into something beautiful. We become better pray-ers as we understand our personal brokenness and pray for others. In a sense, our heart beats with those for whom we pray.
So, glory in your brokenness and in the brokenness of others. Those “cracks” allow God’s grace to shine, like the gold in Kintsugi art.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, The Catholic Witness