When I mentioned to someone recently that my winter hibernation project this year is working through my backlog of mending, she asked if she could bring her mending pile over for me to do too. But I know my limits, so I politely declined!
At other times, when I have moaned about my mountains of mending and the closets full of fabrics for future sewing projects, people have suggested I just toss it all out. They suggested this would clear out the clutter that was weighing on my mind.
I thought about it, but my planet-loving conscience, my thrifty soul and the voice of my “waste not, want not” ancestors all said “No!” So all through this past year, I looked forward to this winter, when I could devote myself to mending as my annual hibernation project. (Read about last year’s project here.) And believe it or not, I’ve been having fun!
This year, as I sit pinning, sewing and snipping, I have realized that mending is also a spiritual practice. When I do productive work with my hands, it grounds* and centers me. I lose track of time and feel delight! I myself am mended just as surely as I sew up a ripped seam or use old fabric to recover a pillow. I can’t get enough of it!
So I want to share with you some of the things I’ve been working on. After it sat in a laundry basket for 10 or 20 years, waiting for me to get around to it, I FINALLY mended the quilt I made in 1971 and replaced all the worn-out patches. Beautiful!
I made a new quilt out of an old blanket with a few too many holes, a sheet (also with holes that I mended), and a nice, big piece of ancestral fabric (was it a tablecloth? a bedspread?). Something useful produced and the pile reduced.
I mended the holes in a wool blanket that used to belong to my parents, and then to one of my sisters and that I recently inherited. The pattern is reminiscent of Native American weaving, but it may be a reproduction.
And then there were the usual clothing items, the holey wool socks, the ripped seams, the stretched-out elastic, the too-long dress that is more useful shorter.
And now I am working on re-covering seat cushions for our hard wooden chairs so they’ll be more comfortable, and so the colors and patterns will coordinate better. Fun!
The satisfaction of doing this practice of mending and repairing in my own life, with my own stuff, gives a glimpse of a bigger lesson. I think of how the earth calls out for mending and healing of its soil, its atmosphere, its waters. I think of the mending needed in our communities, our politics, our culture. I think of the broken places in all our human hearts that are crying for repair and healing.
How can we bind up, heal, repair, re-weave, regenerate, restore all that is broken? As spring, the season of rebirth, resurrection and liberation approaches, I hope we can be set free and energized to mend the world around us.
Meanwhile, I will stitch and pin and darn and sew and hope that spring will see my mending piles reduced, my closets a little less stuffed, and my soul restored.
* My church congregation is having an “all church read” of the book Grounded: Finding God in the World A Spiritual Revolution by Diana Butler Bass. At a book discussion group meeting recently, the leader asked “What grounds you?” At the time I couldn’t really come up with a true answer, but I got this insight while mending.
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