Repair of the Slipper, Repair of the Soul


A week ago, the stitching on one of a favorite pair of slippers let go. I noticed when I nearly stepped out of it while carrying the laundry. “Damn!” I thought, “I need to get some new slippers.” I stepped out of the slippers, put the laundry basket on the bed and began folding the laundry. Then I remembered something. “Wait! I don’t have to throw the slippers away. I can mend it! And I did. Instead of creating trash and spending money on slippers, I kept the slippers and spent a few dollars on a set of needles and various types of thread. This was my first opportunity to take up a new spiritual practice – Mending.

Rev. Tony's mended moccasin style house slipper with repair stitching of a different color and gauge.
My mended slipper.

 

A few weeks ago I attended the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship Revival at First Unitarian Church in Worcester, MA. One of the presentations was “Mending Church” by Rev. Laura Everett, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. She talked about mending as a spiritual practice and made connections to church, faith communities, and ministry.

As she writes in her recent essay at ReligionNews.com, “The metaphors are rich and tactile.”

And indeed they are. I need mending, you need mending, the church needs mending, the world need mending. And all of us have the ability to mend. We can all learn to mend. Like we have actually lost the art of mending clothes in our culture, we have in many ways also lost the art of mending ourselves, our relationships, our families, and our communities. Rev. Everett writes:

We learn to look for the places that need repair. We discover holes at the elbows and fraying at the cuffs. We see stress at the seams. We notice the places of friction and instability often need the most repairs. Sometimes we find that the garment was not well created to begin with and thus, prone to tearing. We learn to look carefully, and ask, “Is this worth fixing?” I find myself asking this often about my neighborhood, my city, my church and my country.

The act of physically stitching my slipper back together brought me to that place where God teaches me lessons. I couldn’t find an exact matching thread, so I used something close in color and if I find a better match later, I can redo the repair. My life is like this, I thought, I am not always a perfect match and I repair myself as best I can. I am not like I used to be. I am worn and used – I’ve been through parenting, divorce, depression, and cancer. I’m full of patches and mends that don’t perfectly match. I am not the shiny new shoe or garment I once was, but who is? Like my slipper, I am worth repairing. Heck, I love my odd little slippers, they’re warm and cozy and broken in to fit my feet. I love them the way they are, even with the repair stitching that doesn’t quite match. Sometimes I get mad at myself for not being a famous designer brand three piece suit. Over and over I have to get used to the fact that I am an off the rack jeans and cotton T-shirt. That’s who I am. And not a top brand at that. But I’m me and me is enough. Worthy. Lovable. And when I break down, I am worth fixing.

The more I’ve sat in silence darning an old sock, the more I’ve come to sense that this is what God is like. God is a mender. God takes what the world considers disposable, curls up in a large chair and looks with patience to repair what is broken in each of us. God sees our tears and tenderly stitches us up. Sometimes that repair feels like an unraveling. Yet, mending is an affirmation of worth.

Yes it is. Amen. Yes it is.

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