fixing what’s broken…

Several mornings ago, I came downstairs, wondering why a certain chook sounded so loud. Turned out, it was because the chicken was IN the house, and couldn’t seem to figure out how to get out. At the moment I let the chicken out the door, one of the cats ran in, and they both had near heart attacks, as they collided. I thought it was pretty funny, but Taggle (the cat) bumped into the door, and I was distracted by an odd sound from behind it. The sound of a door bumping into broken ceramic, and breaking it further.

Pulling the door aside, I found a pile of broken pottery, complete with leftover gravy, all over the floor. The cats must have knocked it off during the night, and none of us had even heard it. It must’ve made a great smashing noise, but we slept through it. I just cringed over the breakage, as I do when I find anything broken, that’s made of ceramic. Because it feels all wrong to me, that it is broken, and that my fix-it job will never make it the way it was.

But I am the Super Glue Queen of my family, and I can’t walk by any broken ceramics, without attempting to fix it. I often joke that it’s my only inheritance of the ceramic engineering genes, aside from my love of dishes. You will think I am very strange, and you won’t be the first one, but I actually ENJOY gluing things back together. And because I do a really good job, if I do say so myself, my mom (and at least one other person) always save their broken stuff for me. If I heard correctly, those two people have been saving me broken stuff for the last year, so I can fix it all when I get home.

This particular job would need some work, first, as the pitcher had congealed gravy in it, when it fell. So, I found a clear plastic box to put all the pieces in, and filled it up with water. Later, I would rinse them all off, carefully, and I tried to not think off all the pottery scraps that were going down the drain. It had to be done, but I sure didn’t like knowing I might lose a crucial piece. Then I left them to dry, until I could load them on a cookie tray, and take them upstairs.

The small piece on the right is comprised of 5-6 smaller pieces.

Whenever I go into super glue mode, I try and figure out why I like it so much. On the surface, it really makes no sense to me, or to anyone else. I just find it satisfying to put the pieces where they’re supposed to go, and especially, if I can make it look as good as new. There’s even a set of South American chimes, made of terracotta, waiting for me at home. Over a year ago, they fell and broke, when I was packing to leave PA, and though I’ve done some work on them, I haven’t yet finished. And no, I couldn’t just throw them away. That would be admitting defeat.

Obviously, that's where the pitcher struck, with all the smallest pieces located right there. Difficult to get that small piece to adhere to anything.

Thinking about this, today, I’ve decided that the basic point is… I like to fix what is broken. When something is broken, it shouldn’t have happened. It was an accident. Nobody meant to drop it, crack it, smash it into pieces (ok, unless you threw it, when you were in a temper). But generally, it was not purposeful. In the pottery pitcher’s case, it was especially not on purpose, as it had been a gift at Mr. & Mrs. B’s wedding, ten years ago. Mrs. B was quite upset to see it in pieces, but she probably would have thrown them away, if she’d reached it first. Most people would.

I know that the broken item will never look like it used to, or be used for it’s original purpose. It will probably not hold water and it will never hold up in the dishwasher. But that doesn’t make it useless. However, I’m not talking about being a pack rat over items that break, but often, something made of ceramic, whether a dish or a figurine, is something special. It holds memories.

If it’s broken, I want to fix it. I don’t care how many pieces it’s in, how small the pieces are, or if some of the pieces are missing. It is difficult to put back together, takes careful planning and the right timing, so that the glue doesn’t dry, and you can’t get another piece back in. But if I had received it as a wedding gift, I wouldn’t care if it wasn’t perfect any longer. I’d still want it, in some semblance of what it was.

Speaking of weddings, or marriages, I’ve had some analogies running around in my head. These aren’t aimed at anyone in particular, but I hope to apply them, when I get married someday. I’m sure it isn’t a perfect analogy, but that’s ok. Just sharing with you what I’ve come up with.

If something is broken, it needs to be fixed. Doesn’t matter how badly damaged, it can be fixed. It won’t be perfect. No one in a marriage is perfect, you’re going to hurt each other, and make it up, hurt each other and then make it up. The point is to keep making it up, fixing the problem, going to the root of the issue, and dealing with it. Don’t leave the pieces lying around, pick them up and patch them back together again. It will take time, cause you to sweat, bring you to tears, and put you on your knees, in prayer. But in the end, your marriage is still together, even though you can see where the cracks and dings are. At a glance, only the people who know you best will be able to see them.

You know, in the Bible, the Lord God is referred to as the Potter, and we’re the clay (Isaiah 64:8). I’m glad He called us that, instead of glass.

Whether it’s your marriage, your friendships, or just a cherished piece of pottery, don’t leave them in pieces. Go find all the pieces, and painstakingly, put it back together again.

And by the way, this pitcher I put back together, it was the hardest fix-it job I’ve ever come across. It’s very obvious how badly damaged it is, and my fingerprints are all over the bottom, forever fused into the super glue. I came the closest I ever have to gluing my fingers to the pottery, or at least to each other. And almost didn’t fix it, as several pieces weren’t put together at the right time (it broke on a swirl pattern, VERY hard to fix!). So, my Aussie family may never be able to use it for water or gravy again, but it’s still there, a testimony to ten years together, and many more to come. So, talk about being worth the hard work and sweat involved!

4 thoughts on “fixing what’s broken…

  1. I try to fix things also… broken pottery, marriages… the problem I’ve found is that sometimes too many little pieces are missing, and the thing never really works again. Be it a pitcher or your heart. That’s my observation, anyway. But I totally get why you try – I keep trying as well.

  2. I truly appreciate your fortitude. I attempt to fix some of the kids’ toys that can be repaired, but there are others that are a total loss (and I am happy to be rid of them). I’ve found/fallen in love with Gorilla Glue. You have to be able to clamp things together (during the curing process, the glue expands) and allow them to sit overnight, but WOW. That stuff works and has saved our dollhouses, toy trucks and just about everything worth fixing. One of the hazards of having kids is the unintentional beating that “your stuff” will endure. My FIL gave me a terracotta rabbit planter, and my son pushed it off of our porch and it broke into large pieces; fortunately, all but several small pieces were able to be “Gorilla-ed” and what gaps the planter now has allows for water drainage. 🙂

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