wabi-sabi: pathway to joy

I first became acquainted with the term wabi-sabi years ago when I had the privilege of managing a one of a kind bookstore and art gallery. We opened up our space for events and classes and one such offering was a series on wabi-sabi art. It spoke to me deeply at the time on many levels and continues to move me today, perhaps even more so the older I get.

This morning I read this brief article on the topic and the story of Rikyu, from whom Japanese legend says that the ethos of wabi-sabi originates. In essence, wabi-sabi is embracing imperfection and seeing the beauty in things that at first glance might seem a little off- putting or perhaps even ugly.

I have recently converted an old tool shed in our back yard into an art studio. I am offering primarily small group children’s art classes (I can only fit about 5-6 students comfortably at a time). I really don’t consider myself an artist. So what makes me think I can teach art? It is about allowing my inner child permission to create imperfectly and letting children know that art is about play, not perfection. Wabi-Sabi.

Of course, the concept of wabi-sabi can permeate all of the areas of life if we allow it to. In the process of healing it is sometimes tempting to allow shame to tell us that we will never be complete and remind us of unhealthy behaviors from our past. If we can re-frame even our most vulnerable moments and see them as an integrated part of a truly beautiful life, then we have a real shot at joy and can help others embrace themselves and their frailties.

Thinking of wabi-sabi this morning has literally brought tears of joy to me as I continue through this veil of impermanence. Life can be so beautiful, friends, and so are you. Really, truly, just as you are. And the same goes for me.

Have a Wabi-Sabi week,


2 thoughts on “wabi-sabi: pathway to joy”

  1. I was just reading about Rikyu in The Book of Tea earlier this year, and he is indeed fascinating. The whole Japanese philosophy and esthetic inspired me to do a broader study of beauty, starting from a Christian perspective, which I have not continued – yet. 🙂

    I do know that The Holy Trinity is the source and prime example of beauty. It’s a mystery to be revealed, how all of our broken parts will be healed and incorporated into something truly complete. Maybe those glorious images will bear the scars that show all the ways God has transformed us, and “called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

    Have fun with your art classes! I hope you will share more about them here on your blog.


    1. Thank you so much for your comment. The Book of Tea sounds wonderful. Your thoughts about our broken parts being healed reminded me of the scripture that talks about us “carrying our treasure in earthen vessels.”

      Liked by 1 person

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