The mending kits showed up first as I searched for thread in the same color family as the pillowcase. Perhaps they are metaphors of grace, ways to redeem everything we do.
Fevers and chills
Illness has invaded here. My husband spent the night alternately sweating and freezing. He felt a bit better this morning, and I’m somewhat recovering from whatever I have, so decided to strip the bed down to the mattress and give everything a good wash.
As I was unzipping one of the silk pillowcases, a true indulgence, I saw where the fabric around the zipper was disintegrating. Mend or toss time.
I often describe myself as domestically challenged, and one of my worst memories of my school days was the home economics class all the girls were expected to take while the boys were ushered into shop classes.
I had never even seen a sewing machine before, although I often watched my much-adored grandmother mend things. However, I had never threaded a needle before. In truth, I’d never even boiled water before.
Sigh. But I am older now and, at least, a bit more experienced in domestic things.
A pile of untouched mending kits
I pulled out the dresser drawer where I keep sewing supplies. I saw a small box with thread in random colors. Next to it nestled an even smaller container of needles and pins, along with the random buttons that come with every shirt I buy. I routinely save them but will never use them.
As I searched for thread in the same color family as the pillowcase, I discovered, much to my amusement, multiple unused miniature mending kits I had gathered on various travels.
I have decided those mending kits are metaphors for grace.
I found a decent match in threads and an ancient packet of needles, likely 50 years old. Or older if it harkens to my home economics class days. And so, I sat down to work. My stitches these days are, sadly, worse than amateur. The fabric was fragile. Lasting repairs seemed unlikely.
Out of curiosity, I checked the purchase date for the pillowcases: nearly two years ago. I launder our bed linens weekly. I’m careful with them: I encase them in mesh bags for the washing machine cycle and hang them to dry except for about a 10-minute toss on barely warm air.
But that is still asking a lot of them. Again, it is unlikely that my slapdash mending job will extend its life more than a couple of months.
And then what? I touch the silk: it is soft, pliable, thinning in places, a bit discolored from prolonged contact with various body oils, but still usable. What would my frugal grandmothers have done with something like this? Where would their mending lead?
Nothing discarded; all reused and transformed.
One thing that would never have crossed their minds: to discard it when it irrevocably separates from the zipper. I could see one cutting it into pieces and hemming a set of handkerchiefs from it. The other might make doll clothes,
Would silk make good polishing rags? If so, both would set aside a good-sized piece for that. Bits and ends might be used to patch something else. Neither were quilters; one did make rag rugs–yep, there would be a place for all of it.
And this I know for sure: neither would have suffered with the tiny mending kits or sparsely supplied sewing boxes like mine: their mending resources would go deep and wide.
I sense that the realm of heaven works like this: nothing in our lives goes to waste as we slowly walk and work through our lives. We mend and reinforce our frayed edges. Growing maturity teaches us to recycle our mistakes into vehicles of patience for others.
In time, we learn to savor our discolorations and scars as marks of a well-lived life. We develop reservoirs of wisdom and deep compassion from our bad memories, regrets, and foolish choices.
In time, receptive souls build mending kits from the Holy One, always accessible, always supplied. Even the odd buttons and ancient needles find use in the fullness of God’s grace.
Photo Credit: © Christy Thomas, December 2022, All Rights Reserved.