Kintsugi Hope: repairing our brokenness to make us more beautiful people

This week our nation was asked to wait a little longer before Covid restrictions can be lifted fully. The effects of this pandemic run long and deep.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 5:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 5:05 pm
A Kintsugi Japanese plate restored with gold
A Kintsugi Japanese plate restored with gold

However, there is a second pandemic running alongside that may be just as widespread and damaging: we are in the midst of a crisis in mental health. Among adults of all ages, and very prominent amongst young people in Britain, levels of anxiety and depression are reportedly higher than usual, and the most serious cases like attempted or actual suicide are up. As a local church pastor, I am seeing this first hand.It is not just the unprecedented pressures of the past 18 months. Those who work in this field have observed rising levels of mental ill health, lower resilience, greater self-doubt and self-harming in recent years. Statutory services are stretched to the limit. This is a pandemic that needs acknowledging immediately and addressing continually.There is hope. Initiatives are popping up from the grassroots in our city to tackle the issues head-on.Recently The Well Sheffield, a church on Ecclesall Road, formed online wellbeing groups for youth and adults. Around 80 people journeyed for a two- to three-month course with resources to support people's mental and emotional wellbeing, called Kintsugi Hope.Kintsugi is a Japanese technique for repairing pottery with seams of gold. The word means 'golden joinery' in Japanese. This repairs the brokenness in a way that makes the object more beautiful, and even more unique than it was prior to being broken. Instead of hiding the scars it makes a feature of them. Our society is beginning to embrace this kind of idea – think about the Princes William and Harry who’ve bravely highlighted the challenges of mental health and publicly named their own struggles.This not something that many of us ever stop and give serious attention to, yet for people all around us, and perhaps for you, mental health has become a daily reality and struggle. The course opened the lid on anxiety and depression, anger, shame, self-acceptance, disappointment and loss (which surely all of us have suffered in some way this past year or so), perfectionism, forgiveness and resilience.This month a Kintsugi Hope group for Y10 girls began at a large secondary school in south Sheffield. It is facilitated through School Pastors (linked to Street Pastors) – a partnership between the school and local churches who support the school with pastoral care. They hope it will be the first of many.Thank God for those helping to address this epidemic, towards a nation where mental and emotional health is understood and accepted within safe and supportive communities.“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John’s Gospel chapter 1)

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The Reverend Nick Allan
The Reverend Nick Allan