This weekend, I mended things. Each one of the four of us had an item of clothing with at least one hole. I am learning to darn knitwear. Some are easier than others, but I definitely got a little better as I went along. One special shirt was losing its SOUND CREW letters, and was full of little holes. I patched up the holes the best that I could and stitched the letters into place. On my own knit cardigan, instead of darning the holes closed, I stitched a thick ridge of thread around the edges of the holes, making a decorative element rather than trying to cover up the problems.
In this walk through the shadowy tunnels of the December labyrinth, I wonder how the mending metaphor can work for me in other ways. At times, it’s easy enough to repair a communication breach: stitch the edges together, and call it done. The line of repair might be obvious, but it stands as a reminder of the care needed for good communication.
Other times, relationships need serious reweaving, one person patching a new warp, and the other weaving a new weft back and forth, catching the frayed and slipping threads as you go. That’s tedious work, but the resulting repaired relationship can come through stronger and more interesting for the art and care put into the mending. Or sometimes, we work together to make the pain of the break in a relationship into a thing of beauty, a decorated memory of the hole we fell into. I have a few of these relationships in my life, and I treasure them with the sort of obstinate intensity that I lavish on a favorite article of clothing that will never be thrown away because the mended spots have become a part of the essential beauty and truth of the garment.
What needs mending today? How will you approach that which must be rethreaded, restitched, tended with threads of connection?
(At the beginning of Advent, my pastor asked us to hold the swords-into-ploughshares vision in our heads, to look for stories of people choosing that vision. For the next little while, I am going to look for such stories as my daily morning meditation.)
Have you heard of ICU nurse Lori Wood, who was working with a 27-year-old-patient who needed a heart transplant? The young man was both autistic and homeless, and unable to get a heart transplant if he had nowhere to go afterward and no one to take care of him. In order to ensure that he could get all the care and treatment he needed, Ms. Wood adopted him, took him home, and cared for him. She wasn’t trying to be a hero. She was living her vision of true humanity.
(While this isn’t a situation that shows someone choosing a peaceful response to potentially violent situation, I think it’s not too far a stretch to call the experience of homelessness and the lack of health care for people in poverty a violent situation. Ms. Wood was offering an intentional compassionate response to a systemic violence, so I am going to say it fits the parameters of the exercise.)