I was flipping through an issue of Whole Living while enjoying the last sips of my coffee one morning, when I came across an article that captured me, "Wabi Sabi Your Life - Simple Strategies for Embracing Imperfection."
The concept is rooted in Zen Buddhism, particularly the tea ceremony, a ritual of purity and simplicity in which the master's prized bowls that were handmade, irregularly shaped, unevenly glazed and cracked, were believed to have beauty in their imperfection. The far reaching sense of wabi sabi is hard to define by words alone, however, loosely translated, wabi is simplicity either elegant or rustic, and sabi is the beauty of age and wear. It takes time, shifting perspectives and a good deal of appreciation to really understand the Wabi Sabi way of seeing that special kind of beauty.
I have a nativity set complete with the stable and its occupants sitting next to me in a very old cardboard box; it's waiting for the trip downstairs to co-star with the Christmas tree for its 50th year. My Mother gave it to Bruce and me for our first Christmas together. I really didn't like it - it was big, a bit tacky and came from Woolworths (not that there is anything wrong with that), and I just didn't see it fitting in with my version of a Hallmark Christmas. Each year as we got the large box out of the attic I thought, "I'm going to get a really nice nativity for next Christmas, something small and tasteful." But when the crèche was set each year up our children loved it.
It has a very small music box that still plays most of Silent Night, except for the last line. The Angel "Gloria" has a broken wing, the camel lost his head years ago but we put it back with a magical piece of duct tape. One of the Wise Men has to lean against the side of the manger because he has no feet and Joseph lost his staff long ago. Mary, baby Jesus, and the shepherd boy, along with assorted cows and sheep are chipped and fading... You guessed it, we love our wabi sabi crèche; not only do our grown children look for it each year, our grandchildren love it too. We take turns winding up the old music box and are thrilled if it still cranks out a few random notes to Silent Night. I get such a kick out of watching each new grandchild be introduced to our manger by one of my "kids," while listening to the stories they tell about how much seeing it means to them each year.
I have come to really love and treasure my Christmas visitors. At the end of the season each piece is carefully wrapped in new tissue paper then gently tucked back into its old cardboard box to stay safe and sound until next year.
Come to think of it, my crèche and I have become wabi sabi together; we both are chipped, cracked, and a bit faded. Nothing is forever. Wabi sabi beauty appreciates the process of aging, and coming to love the imperfections that we see day after day, deepening our perspective to see a new kind of beauty. Just like the Japanese masters took excellent care of their cracked pottery, we can take excellent care of our bodies, our minds and our spirits. There is a softness as we age that is truly lovely, especially when it is enhanced with large doses of gentle good humor and tossed with a bit of wisdom now and then.
Have a Merry Christmas and a truly Wabi Sabi Holiday Season.
360 Image Consultant