A rebirth of beauty after pain


A rebirth of beauty after pain

This refugee week, Sr Patricia, JRS volunteer, reflects on Kintsugi and the theme of healing.

21 June 2022

A rebirth of beauty after pain

“Each year in June we mark Refugee Week: a time we celebrate our refugee friends, their contributions, creativity and their resilience. The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is ‘Healing’; reminding us that refugee friends carry within them deep hurts, not only from the country from which they came originally, but also from their experiences in the country that is supposed to be their sanctuary.”

As I pondered on the theme of healing the question that came to me was: How can we help our refugee friends to heal? By ‘we’ I mean those of us who work with JRS, but also our society, because welcome and inclusion must be part of the healing process.

To speak of healing implies brokenness, in need of repair. We are all broken in some way or another and reflecting on this I was reminded of an image of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.  The result is that the cracks are not just glued together, or hidden, but are made obvious and are seen as a means of creating something new. The result of the repair is an improvement or enhancement of the pot on its condition even before it was broken. It is a restoration that enables the pot’s brokenness to become something glorious.

But it takes a long time for this process to be completed. In the case of a pot, it is a three month’s process of stages of restoration. It takes patience and attention, it involves the living with the incomplete in the knowledge that eventually, the pot will not only be repaired but transformed.   Reflecting on this image reminds us that our painful experiences remain with us, but they can undergo a change to become something that is life-giving to ourselves and those we meet.







Our refugee friends are not pots but people who have endured great pain and hurt. But through that, they somehow manage to keep going and some have even used their negative experiences to help and inspire others.

This has certainly been the experience of those of us who interact with friends of JRS. We would all agree that we are richer for knowing them, even in their brokenness. As we search for ways to help and support them through their traumas and their journey to healing it’s important to remember that they are not only broken but talented, creative people who have navigated troubled waters we could only imagine.  It is for us to listen and be amazed during this week of celebrating who they are.

Did the piece above inspire you? If so, we are holding a refugee week event on the 25th June 2022 to explore healing and belonging. Register now and celebrate refugee friends through a textile and singing workshop.

This event is in partnership with https://www.singingblankets.org/ 

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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