Book Notes: Reclaim Regret

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As I was getting ready for my annual eight day retreat I saw Sr. Kathryn Hermes’ new book, Reclaim Regret, fresh off the press. Later that evening I found Sr. Kathryn at her computer. She was happy to send me her inspiring five day pre-release e-mail introduction. Enjoy this excerpt from the Introduction:

There is a Japanese form of artistry called Kintsugi , or “golden rejoining.” Kintsugi  is a 15th-century oriental master craft dedicated to restoring broken pottery by rejoining the shattered pieces with gold-laced epoxy to create a stunning masterpiece.

By repairing broken ceramics, it’s possible to give a new lease of life to pottery that becomes even more refined, thanks to its “scars.”

This traditional Japanese art uses a precious metal—liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold—to bring together the pieces of a broken pottery item and at the same time enhance the breaks.

Sometimes our lives can seem like a pile of broken pieces, disappointments, and unfulfilled dreams. We can’t go back and remake the past, just as a broken piece of pottery cannot be put back together to the form it once was.

The spiritual essence of Kintsugi , however, is focusing intention on life’s hidden beauty and power. If such astounding beauty can emerge from the shards of a broken vase, can anything really be beyond repair? It is possible also then with the parts of us, our disappointments and sorrows that we believe are shattered beyond repair. It is true that the original form of the vase has forever been destroyed, but the essence of its beauty survives. In fact the vase is more beautiful than before. The spiritual essence of Kintsugi  when applied to one’s life is not so much about piecing one’s broken life back together as it is about a total reinvention of self in which our broken pieces because a beautiful masterpiece.

Part of maturing is making peace with the life that is ours, past and present with both the light and the shadows. Judgments, comparisons, labels, excuses, and analyses stand in the way of making peace with the life we’ve lived. Surrender is possible only when we live in the absolute immediacy of our experience without commentary and rejection.

And what stands in the way of making this surrender? Something as small and as mighty as our thoughts. Thoughts are powerful. The concept you have of yourself is patched together from a lifetime of feelings, memories, impressions, fears, and sorrows. Your regrets and how you see yourself because of them can be a source of great agony and pain. But as your heart is thrown wide open in agony, you will discover a treasure you never knew was there: the presence of God that grows stronger and stronger. When the Lord appears in your pain, and you look into his face, you will know who you really are.

I have put the best exercises that I have found most effective in working with people struggling to live through troubling times in their lives and overcome disappointments and unfulfilled dreams into my book Reclaim Regret.  If you find yourself at some point of your life, disappointed in yourself, feeling that God couldn’t love you, wouldn’t care, worthless goods, know that you are at the beginning. Allow the pressure of God’s fingers to hold you, to break open the outer shell you have built up to survive in this world, and to expose the raw child-like innocence of your inner spirit so in need of him.

For anywhere God finds need, he gives himself, he takes over and gives himself completely. God can’t not give himself.

So give up the idea of perfection.

Stop striving and dreaming of what should be, what could be.

Immerse yourself where God has shown himself to be, right where you are.

Right now as you are.

Accept the raw sense of sinfulness and the astounding gift of God’s glorious kindness.

From Reclaim Regret, by Sr. Kathryn Hermes, fsp (Pauline Books & Media, 2018). Used with permission.

This book will be available September 1, 2018.

Read the first two chapters online:

Visit our Book Notes archive.


Copyright 2018 Sr, Margaret Kerry, fsp

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About Author

A Daughter of St. Paul for 40 years Sr. Margaret continues to pursue new ways to proclaim the Gospel: sharing the Pauline Charism with the laity, writing books (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross; Prayers for the New Evangelization), & through direct evangelization. She is available for workshops on the Vocation & Mission of the Laity, Media Literacy, and The New Evangelization. mkerry@paulinemedia.com

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