Daily Riches: ‘The Art of Imperfection’ (J. R. Briggs and Robyn Griggs Lawrence)

“According to Japanese legend, a young man named Sen no Rikyu …went to tea master Takeno Joo, who tested the younger man by asking him to tend the garden. Rikyu cleaned up debris and raked the ground until it was perfect, and the garden immaculate. Before presenting his work to the master, he shook a cherry tree, causing a few flowers to fall onto the ground. To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood …wabi-sabi …the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. When a white pottery bowl breaks, for example, one might glue it back together with white lacquer to disguise the breaks, making it look as new and complete as possible. But in the East the bowl might be glued back together with lacquer sprinkled with gold to highlight the cracks and imperfections. Japanese culture sees the aesthetic value of imperfection in wabi-sabi just as much as the Greeks valued perfection in their art. Wabi-sabi is seen as beautiful because it is imperfect and broken.” J. R. Briggs

Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time. Bringing wabi-sabi into your life doesn’t require money, training, or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting.” Robyn Griggs Lawrence

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
so that the surpassing greatness
of the power will be of God
and not from ourselves….”
2 Corinthians 4:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you “revere authenticity above all?”
  • Can you appreciate things in their simplicity – with signs of wear? of age? without “ornamentation?”
  • Can you “find beauty in imperfection” – in the world? in yourself? in others?
  • What would it mean for you to shift from “perfecting” to “appreciating?”

Abba, show your beauty in my imperfections.

For More: Tinker at Pilgrim Creek by Annie Dillard


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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