Beauty from Broken Pieces

This week’s Virtual Friday Morning InterPlay brought to you by Cassandra Sagan, an InterPlay leader in Portland, Oregon.

Tree of Life Mosaic
*Raise a hand in Blessing


Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.

Tree of Life Mosaic
Almost a year ago, I asked my dear friend Penelope St. Clair to help me create a broken tile mosaic Tree of Life in my shower. Penny is a ceramic artist and had done some mosaic work, but nothing on this scale, and I had always wanted to, but had never done, anything remotely like it. We spent a couple of months reading books on mosaic art, measuring, designing, preparing, scavenging, breaking, and hand cutting (mostly Penny) the tiles. We began with the countertop, using the same colors in smaller pieces, and although I immediately fell in love with the work, I was too insecure to lay a single tile when Penny wasn’t right there with me.

A little context: my husband and I were in the middle of a massive whole house renovation, and I was way-too-incrementally recovering from a partially dislocated hip. It began to seem like my mantra was “discombobulated” because when anyone asked how I was, that’s what I usually said.

But as the swirls on the counter and then the Tree of Life in the shower began to take shape, I began to feel that, piece by broken piece, I was making myself whole. The moment I realized that tiling was a form of InterPlay—I’ve got my overarching framework, my pallet, and all I have to do is play within a simple structure—I took over artistic directorship of the project. And just in time, because Penelope was preparing to move back to Northern California, and was less and less available to work with me. I loved every moment of our side-by-side, often tush-to-tush duet. And I am completely astounded to have discovered an entirely new artistic expression during my mid-50s.

My soul sister, hiking buddy, videographer extraordinaire Cathy Zheutlin, decided that since my stubborn hip was preventing us from taking our weekly early morning hikes, she would spend time with me by making this video.

Raise a hand in Blessing: Listen to LIVING TREE by Jack Gabriel.
I sang this song about a thousand times in what we call “the shrine shower” over the million or so hours I spent tiling.

Raise a hand and let it move, dance, dip, dive, shape, and fly through the air. If an image or melody comes into your mind sing it, say it, draw it, write it. Break something and put it back together!

Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.

To purchase a copy of Rabbi Jack’s LIVING TREE contact him at


5 Responses to Beauty from Broken Pieces

  1. CathyAnn says:

    Thank you! Inspiring, beautiful and such a powerful reminder of the mystery and majesty of incrementality!

  2. Brenda Adams says:

    Profoundly beautiful and inspiring! May we all compose ourselves through wondrous art. Thank you, magnificent living tree of life woman for leading with your heart. Keep combobulating!

  3. Lovely! You have put flesh on the word inspiration, and I will carry this with me. Thankyou for finding and living beauty in brokenness, and sharing so we can recreate our own mosaic of life!! Celeste

  4. deanna murray says:

    How fun this was to watch! thank you, cassandra!
    I hardly ever take time to watch these but I am home sick w/ a bad cold and your sharing has certainly inspired me to do so!
    I love your witness – “all I have to get to is ‘yes'”
    I will carry this with me into my incremental tasks tonight!

  5. Alison says:

    How beautiful, Cassandra! You are a true artist in so many different forms!


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