Feb 27 – St. Ignatius prayer of Repetition, Catherine McAuley’s call to the tough places as places of Mercy

Friday February 27  –  “You just have to do the right thing,”   Retired Nurse, Deborah Hughes (April 2014)

“Yes, thus says the Lord
creator of the heavens,
who is God,
who formed the earth and made it,
who set it firm,
created it no chaos,
but a place to be lived in.”                  Isaiah 45: 18

           N.B., For the last school day of Black History Month, I returned to last April 2nd’s story about healing and anger and courage that riveted Detroit and its Metro area last year.   St. Ignatius teaches the prayer of “Repetition,” returning in memory to “some more important places” to find deeper understanding. (Sp. Exercises Par 118).

Thursday  April 8, 2014

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James Martin, sj

A Boston friend sent this James Martin, sj prayer to stop the snow.  Lots of pictures along with J’s wit.

back with a real post tomorrow as usual

john sj

You’ve probably seen this already, but just in case…..



Father James Martin, S.J., has come up with the perfect prayer for Boston and every other city that wants the snow to stop.


Facebook: FrJamesMartin


Chestnut Hill, Mass., courtesy of John Wronski, SJ / Facebook: FrJamesMartin

Martin is a Jesuit priest, author, and editor of the national Catholic magazine America. He published the prayer on his Facebook page and gave permission for it to be reprinted on BuzzFeed.

“Almighty God, who made the green grass on the Fenway, the blue waters of Dorchester Bay, and the tan sands on the Cape, we have a simple prayer: Enough with the snow already.”


Getty Images Kayana Szymczak

“Whatever mysterious point you’re making about endurance, or patience, or your own awesome power, we get it.”


AP Michael Dwyer

“We’ve endured, we’re plenty patient, and we get that you can do the snow thing.”


AP Michael Dwyer

“And we know that you know the old joke (since you know everything) about how if the Pilgrims landed in Florida first this part of the country would never have been settled, ha ha, but we love it here.”


AP Charles Krupa

“We love the spring, especially on Boston Common.”


Getty Images/iStockphoto SeanPavonePhoto

“We love the Fall, especially in the suburbs.”


Getty Images/iStockphoto/ coleong

“And we love the summer, especially on Cape Cod, on Cape Ann, and on the South Shore.”


Getty Images/iStockphoto/ coleong

“We love all those beautiful parts of your world.”


Getty Images/iStockphoto SeanPavonePhoto

“But we’ve had it with the snow.”


AP Michael Dwyer

“I mean, have you looked out my window?”


AP Elise Amendola

“So we’d like to ask you to stop sending us the snow.”


AP Steven Senne

“And, just to be clear, when we say snow we also mean freezing rain, sleet, black ice, any kind of flurries, and that new creation of yours, thundersnow.”


AP Steven Senne

“We promise we’ll be good during Lent, we’ll be kind to one another, and we won’t ask for another thing.”


AP Elise Amendola

“At least until the Red Sox start to play.”


commons.wikimedia.org / Flickr: jaredvincent / / Via Creative Commons



AP Steven Senne

Here’s the prayer again in full:

Almighty God, who made the green grass on the Fenway, the blue waters of Dorchester Bay and the tan sands on the Cape, we have a simple prayer: Enough with the snow already.

Whatever mysterious point you’re making about endurance, or patience or your own awesome power, we get it: we’ve endured, we’re plenty patient and we get that you can do the snow thing.

And we know that you know the old joke (since you know everything) about how if the Pilgrims landed in Florida first this part of the country would never have been settled, ha ha, but we love it here.

We love the spring, especially on Boston Common. We love the Fall, especially in the suburbs. And we love the summer, especially on Cape Cod, on Cape Ann and on the South Shore.

We love all those beautiful parts of your world. But we’ve had it with the snow.

I mean, have you looked out my window? So we’d like to ask you to stop sending us the snow.

And, just to be clear, when we say snow we also mean freezing rain, sleet, black ice, any kind of flurries and that new creation of yours, thundersnow.

We promise we’ll be good during Lent, we’ll be kind to one another, and won’t ask for another thing, at least until the Red Sox start to play. Amen.

Via Facebook: FrJamesMartin

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Wed Feb 25 – To Boston in winter: “There will be daffodils in the Back Bay.”

Wednesday, February 25 Boston’s Back Bay, April 20, 1983

Boston is my second city, after Motown. I’ve lived there 7 different times, whole years and half years, at MIT and Boston College. The city is dear to me, dear with familiar urban mazeways, (like where to get my car fixed, my hair cut, my teeth tended, when to avoid heavy traffic if you can manage it, how to plan contemplative times beside the sailboat basin of the Charles, whether to walk from my Jesuit house in the Back Bay over the Mass Ave or the Longfellow bridge. All those years have connected me with friends, soul friends who keep these sensual memories from drifting into nostalgia.

This monstrous hammering patch of winter is more real and sensual because of soul friends whose closeness helps me to imagine the city’s fatigue. Alas it’s nowhere near over, either. When the storms let up all those feet of snow still have to melt and all that water has to go somewhere.

Yesterday an idea for today’s post snuck up on me. I am posting a playful poem I wrote one April afternoon in 1983 after walking across the Mass Ave Bridge heading home after a work day at MIT. Is the poem whimsy, or a reminder, or a promise, or a blessing? Doesn’t matter. Blessings from Motown where the morning sun is kissing the top of the tall evergreen outside my west-facing window.

john sj

Today’s Post — Meeting at Rush Hour

A gust of wind
sent the metal street sign for Charlie’s Tavern
skittering fifteen feet up Newbury Street,
an unlikely sailboat
escaped, perhaps, from the Charles.

The clatter and improbability
set us both free.

She looked twenty two,
blond and lovely,
going the other way
and no doubt equally homeward bound.

In our sudden bemusement
at the sign’s startled venture
our eyes touched.

Then, the wonder.
We grinned.

Delight at our moment’s kinship
freed us from fear
from strategy and burden.
She flashed fire at me
and I, no doubt, at her.

A moment’s celebration quickly passed–
rare and winsom beauty,
breathed through two human forms
filling us with awe.

We went our ways with no word spoken,
both journeys blessed.

April 20, 1983

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Feb 23 – “If Grand River Were a River” Al Ward

Monday February 23  A blizzard in Denver

I spent this past weekend with 5 UDM faculty in Denver at the 2015 Heartland-Delta Faculty Conversations Weekend.  The five?  (Walter Lim: dentistry 13th year;  Amy Dereczyk: Physician Assistant Director 8 years;  Renady Hightower:  (chair for Health Services Admin);  Rose Yang: (accounting), and Terri Laws:  (religious studies and interim director for African American Studies).   We were part of c. 50 faculty from Jesuit universities across the middle of the US.   Tom Landy, Director of Collegium, led us in a series of individual silent contemplations and small group follow-up conversations on the topic: “Ignatian Imagination and Teaching Excellence.”

An exquisite and very messy blizzard descended on us Saturday afternoon and changed our plans.  But not enough to stifle conversations among faculty about the question of how prayer as taught by St. Ignatius in The Spiritual Exercises can free faculty imaginations about the student learning experience.

We got home very late and I’ve been using Monday to catch up.  So today’s post comes so late most readers will find it Tuesday morning.  I’ve borrowed it from Professor Rosemary Weatherston’s series of February 2014 posts honoring Dudley Randall’s 100th birthday.   This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dudley Randall’s Broadside Press, part of the reason UDM’s Library has been named one of the US National Literary Landmarks.

With thanks to Rosemary, here is her post from February 26, 2014, a poem by one of UDM’s distinguished poet graduates, Al Ward.  Al writes about Grand River Blvd, the southern border of the University neighborhood.  Lots of familiar streets find their place in the poem.

Have a good week.  See you Wednesday.

john st sj


Today’s Post “If Grand River Were a River”

This week students submitted their entries for UDM’s annual Dudley Randall Student Poetry Competition. The competition began while Randall was a librarian and poet-in-resident at U of D. He served as its judge for several years—one of the many ways he inspired our student writers.

Those of us who know Randall primarily through his poetry and reputation as a publisher may be unaware of this aspect of his legacy–his extraordinary generosity with and support of poets of all ages and walks of life. Broadside Press’s extensive work with community writers continues this legacy.

In today’s and tomorrow’s posts I would like to share the work of three talented University poets whose work has been supported by Randall and Broadside Press.

The first author, Albert M. Ward, is a University of Detroit alumnus and well-known Detroit poet, activist, and educator. He often speaks of the transformative effect it had on him as a young African American boy to visit Dudley Randall in the public library near his home where Randall worked.

In Ward’s poem, “If Grand River Were A River,” we can hear echoes of Randall’s love of our city. We hear, too, Ward’s own rich, powerful voice taking us somewhere new.

Rosemary Weatherston
Director, Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture


“If Grand River Were A River”

There are no waterfalls on Dexter
But when it rains
The street shimmers like glass
And Oakman Boulevard
Becomes a rainforest,

Blue and transparent
The sky over Dexter
Is bright in summer,
The sun washes the savannahs
And sidewalks in golden hues,
In a barbershop on Dexter
I learned to play checkers.

At Parkman Library
My bicycle was stolen.
Had my African warriors
Been with me,
We would have drummed
On our shields,
Walked through the tall grass
And found my bicycle.

If Grand River were a river,
I would walk along its banks
From village to village,
If Grand River were a river,
Children could dance at water’s edge,
Dances of freedom.

Grandmothers would say,
“Carry these groceries, boys,
One day you’ll make fine young men.”
We’d walk Dexter sometimes
To Elmhurst or Fullerton
Or across Davidson to Clements
And Pasadena,
Had lots of friends on
Ewald Circle and Kendall.
The grandmothers would tell stories
And give us lots of fifty cents.

I remember that summer of “67,
43 people died they said,
A civil disturbance,
Businesses burned on 12th Street,
Houses in Pingree,
Tanks chewed up the alley
Behind the garage of my Aunt Sweet,
Looters running through her backyard
Terror, smoke and ashes,
Not to be denied . . .

If Grand River were a river,
Trees would grow rich and lush
Like baobobs, their roots thick,
If Grand River were a river,
I would be free.

Woodward and the boulevard, market place
Where villagers and neighbors come
To trade, to greet,
I see watercolours of silk
And broadcloths, women
With their bundles walking,
The Elders with their sticks.

Mt. Kilimanjaro is greater
Than the Fisher building
With snow like crystal,
Silver at its crest,
The sun sleeps there
When the moon is round and full,
East or west of Woodward . . . I am home.

If Grand River were a river,
Elephants could drink from it
And I would wash my clothes
Among its stones.

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Feb 20 – wage work

Friday February 20  —  Philip Levine  Detroit poet and US Poet Laureate  (+  Feb 14, 2015  age 87,  U.S. Poet Laureate 2011 & 2012)

“Thanks for giving him more recognition. Great poet. This will sound like a ‘bot’ but having lived in Detroit for many years, his work really spoke to me… far more than most of these ‘poet laureates’ who tend to do riffs on ‘walks in the woods with the dog’.”  (J C Harris comment NPR  Feb 16)

I’ve been noticing a change in the wind about wage work in the U.S.  For a while now the settled truth in some readings of the direction of U.S. history put wage work, hourly pay, moving off in the rear view mirror;  off to South East Asia or Mexico.  In the US everybody does desk work with a large, medium, small or tiny digital screen and keyboard.  So it sometimes seems.

But lately, you can read of manufacturing jobs coming back to the U.S., to recognition of skilled hands and not just skilled algorithms, as being important here.    You can read more and more about income inequality and the decades-long squeeze on hourly wages.   Even Walmart begins to recognize that it takes a hit when the wide world perceives a Walmart job as a dead end.  Philip Levine’s death on Valentine’s Day (cancer, age 87 – U.S. Poet Laureate 2011-12) and multiple readings of his iconic poem, “What Work Is,” opens a moment to notice stagnant wage work, undocumented sweat shop factory workers, and major labor unrest along the US Pacific coast.  Here’s a piece from this morning’s Crain’s Detroit Business that offers a snapshot. http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20150220/NEWS01/150229998/u-s-unions-poised-for-comeback-as-wages-stall-rich-get-richer

“Labor unrest.”   Bad news for the nation which hankers for an orderly and predictable daily order?  Maybe not.  Maybe unrest is the fruit of paying attention and the birth place of a living culture.  Giving birth is bloody and exhausting and the source of all our grace.

Sermonizing today.  Philip Levine stirs the blood I guess.   He reminds me that all around this campus women and men work like hell.  Makes me proud to work here too.

Have a good weekend.


john sj

PS      After the print version of the poem, you can click on a link to listen to Levine read it.

Today’s Post: What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it’s someone else’s brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours of wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, “No,
we’re not hiring today,” for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who’s not beside you or behind or
ahead because he’s home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You’ve never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you’re too young or too dumb,
not because you’re jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don’t know what work is.

Philip Levine, “What Work Is” from What Work Is. Copyright © 1992 by Philip Levine. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

To listen to the poem and the poet, click the play button below:

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Feb 18 – UDM Admissions Counselor Retreat

Wednesday February 18 — “confident shrug and twist”

Two unusually busy days for me;  especially this morning when I am preparing a half day retreat for UDM’s 10 admissions counselors.   Too busy to write a new post even though there’s lots to post about just now:  Our student vigil last night for the 3 murdered UNC students.  Every time our students risk looking closely at the violence that wounds our society, they test their imagination and their courage.  And when  us older people witness students do that, we test our imagination and courage too.  So this is a repeat from last August 20 when, just as this morning’s half-day for admissions counselors,  we were gearing up for new student orientation.

Best to read the poem out loud,  with pauses.

Have a good day;  I hope you enjoy snow.


john sj


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Jan 23 — cold air and guardian angels

Monday January 23

I happened to look at last year’s post for January 24.   It could have been written this morning, that is to say:    -5º,  reports of 7 ft of  snow in Boston, where hundreds of years old narrow streets without driveways play havoc with snow removal, predictions of many Michigan drivers finding dead batteries in their cars today  (-25º in the UP).    A hammer of a time.  We got through last winter, we’ll get through this one too.



john st sj

Friday, January 24, 2014

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Feb 13 – “. . . many Africans are not inspired and influenced by their own writers and poets – “

Friday, February 13 — “Broadside Press Poets’ Theatre . . . the entire session will be devoted to open mic (new poets are welcome)”

The Badilisha Poetry X-Change website begins with words that Dudlley Randall, UDM’s Poet Laureate, might have written about Black poetry in Detroit when he founded Broadside Press.

“Why We Do It: Africans have limited access to the vast poetic work of both historical and contemporary African poets. There has never been an archive of these poets’ work that is both expansive and easily accessible. This means that many Africans are not inspired and influenced by their own writers and poets – negatively impacting their personal growth, identity, development and sense of place.”

Broadside Press, diected by Professor Rosemary Weatherston, hosts programs designed to put a light on great African American poetry, especially but not exclusively Detroit poets. Year by year, The Dudley Randall Poetry Competition features UDM student winners, new poets who inspire and influence the culture in which we live and the air we breathe. (n.b., after I wrote this post I saw Dr. Weatherston’s email announcing this Sundays “Broadside Press Poets’ Theatre (3:15 Sunday in Grounds) a precise example of what Broadside Press exists to do. Check out the full email at the end of this post: jstsj)

I found a tough, strong African poem in my first walk-around the Badilisha X-Change. Here at the end of week 2 of Black History Month, “Gardenia’s Night” is meant as a tribute to all the poetry UDM has called forth in the decades since Dudley Randall worked here and opened a tradition of African American expression.

But, of course, “Gardenia’s Night” also appeared here because it’s a good poem. Best to read it out loud with pauses.

Have a blest weekend,

john sj


Today’s Post: The Garden Full of Gardenia, Amira Ali

The garden full of gardenia
the smell perfectly lingers
as I imperfectly linger
on the blood-full skied
the night I should have talked
to the soul of his truth
before I laid my body down
maybe even lifted the many shades
before I bowed down to belief
I should have sent a prayer out
to the ancestral land
poured out libation
listen for a word back
a sign of consent
that he is King deserving
of a Queen
before offering my body
made to be a King’s Queen
between the sky and gardenia
we made such a pretty picture
I laid in-between
offer I did my body to him
Before brushing the stars
outta my hair
as the stars still peeked
at a face still hot
from the night’s heat
while his smell still lingered
before his shadow disappeared
I found out
He’s not [my] king.


Gardenias Night (Production of poem – Kenny Allen) by Amira Ali

Amira is a creative artist, poet, writer and educator, born in Ethiopia, based in the U.S. http://badilishapoetry.com/?theme=love She is a regular contributor to Pambazuka News and chief writer, as well as editorial team member at AfricaSpeaks4Africa.org. She is currently at work on, in collaboration with a South African poet and Kenyan writer, producing Podcast stories (Afro’pick and coffee) that accentuates the everyday stories of the African disaporans, residing in America.

Broadside Press’ Poets’ Theater
Sunday, January 18, 2015
3:15 pm – 6:00 pm

Sunday, February 15th, the Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture and Broadside Press will host Broadside Press Poets’ Theater. There is no featured performer; the entire session will be devoted to open mic (new poets are welcome and encouraged to come read!) This event is free and open to the public.

Broadside Press Poets’ Theater takes place on UDM’s McNichols Campus the third Sunday of each month during the academic year. For more information, contact Rosemary Weatherston, Director of UDM’s Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture and UDM Press at weatherr@udmercy.edu. We hope you can join us.

Dr. Rosemary Weatherston
Associate Professor of English

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Feb 11 – Kayla Mueller August 14, 1988 – c. February 6, 2015

Wednesday, February 11 – “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1

Yesterday afternoon, judging from email traffic, readers on this list are thrilled that Detroit’s North Side urban garden won the national M-Gro contest and will use the $40,000 to create a teaching farm for children. Last night in the West Side Redford Theatre, Mayor Mike Duggan spent one hour imagining Detroit’s rebirth with a litany of specific neighborhood promises made credible to that packed house and lots of us who watched on tv by the long list of promises made by the Mayor’s administration last year. I’ve lived here 34 years and felt like an old-guy homie, thrilled by Detroit’s emerging version of what Denise Levertov calls “Making Peace.” Later last night, after UDM’s 9:30 student residence-hall mass, I came home to learn that Jon Stewart has announced that he will be leaving The Daily Show, his 17 year masterwork where biting humor and passionate commitment to human depth in a hard world have stirred courage in millions of people. Lots of us will miss him.

A “great cloud of witnesses” all on the same evening. A hard world, crowded with women and men at work about re-birth.

This morning I woke to an NPR account of Kayla Mueller’s martyrdom in Syria at age 26 as a captive of ISIS. Those who knew her speak of an unwavering commitment to compassion; lived in some of the world’s most daunting places of violence. It was the news about Kayla that led me back to Levertov’s “Making Peace.” The poem transformed last night’s and this morning’s disparate array of news into what Hebrews 12 calls “such a great cloud of witnesses.” Late yesterday & this morning appear to be a moment in time of sheer human courage and beauty.

Maybe it’s because Pope Francis just named Bishop Oscar Romero “a martyr,” that I think of Kayla with that word. In Greek, “martyr” means “witness,” or “one who bears witness,” or perhaps “one who pays attention.” On hard days and in hard places it helps to pay attention to the sheer beauty of women and men who bear witness, and go way out of their way to make peace.

Best to read the poem aloud, with pauses, several times.

Have a blest day.

john sj


Today’s Post: “Making Peace” Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
“The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.”

But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.

A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.

A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses. . . .

A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Denise Levetov (1987) Breathing the Water


Kayla-MuellerKayla Mueller
August 14, 1988 – c. February 6, 2015

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Feb 9 – “The Joins”

Monday, February  9  –  “Scar tissue is visible history  . . . “

Many friends have seen the leather based, bead-worked stole a Lakota woman created in 1970.   Two other women told me to wear it as I walked in procession to be ordained a priest on May 25, 1970.    In pictures from that day, the white of the leather is hard to distinguish from the white of the robe I wore.   Today the stole shows its age.  I sometimes tease about its battered 44 year condition; “it’s blessed a lot of pain and heard a lot of courage, and wears its history.”  Several crafts-people have repaired it at times when it was falling to pieces.    Is the stole more beautiful now or when the Lakota artist created it?  Beautiful both times.  Beauty from its first artist, beauty from grief and despair and playful energy that have worn it down.

Which is more beautiful among our students?  Their dazzling achievements or their fatigue?  Both I think:  “scar tissue is visible history” says today’s poet.   Same thing for us non-students who give our energy and skill and affection for the rebirth of hope in ourselves and in the world.  “The fatigue is worth it,” says our behavior day by day.


Chana Bloch is a poet new to me.  She writes here about a broken pot turned radiant by an artist joining its pieces back to a new whole, more beautiful than the original.

Best to read the poem out loud, with pauses.

Blessings on the new week.

john sj

Chana Bloch: “The Joins”

Posted by Phyllis Cole-Dai on Feb 05, 2015 12:00 am


Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending precious pottery with gold.
What’s between us
often seems flexible as the webbing
between forefinger and thumb.

Seems flexible, but it’s not;
what’s between us
is made of clay,

like any cup on the shelf.
It shatters easily. Repair
becomes the task.

We glue the wounded edges
with tentative fingers.
Scar tissue is visible history,

the cup more precious to us
we saved it.

In the art of kintsugi, 
a potter repairing a broken cup
would sprinkle the resin

with powdered gold.
Sometimes the joins
are so exquisite

they say the potter
may have broken the cup
just so he could mend it.
“The Joins” by Chana Bloch. Text as published in The Southern Review (Winter 2014).

Curator’s note: Kintsugi is the Japanese way of honoring and repairing broken ceramic objects with a special lacquer mixed with silver, gold or platinum. It’s an embracing of the flawed or imperfect, honoring it as essential. As the artist Barbara Bloom writes, “[Japanese kintsugi artists] believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”

Art credit: A bowl restored the kintsugi way by Morti and Patty at the Lakeside Pottery and Ceramics Restoration Studio, image by unknown photographer.


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