Friday, July 8, 2011

The Art of Mending

Today I want to share with you a "Philosophy of Life" I have entitled, "The Art of Mending."

I was reading the book, “The Art of Mending,” by Elizabeth Berg, and came upon a paragraph that I have treasured ever since.

“My relatives still make fun of me for my love of things domestic, especially my Aunt Fran, who, whenever we visit, always tells me she’s saved her ironing and mending for me. Actually, I wouldn’t mind doing it. I like ironing. It’s the physical equivalent of staring into middle space. I think it waters the mind, if you know what I mean. As for mending, I think it’s good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away. It’s an antidote to wastefulness and to the need for immediate gratification. You get to see the whole process through, beginning to end, nothing abstract about it. You’ll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there’s an art to mending: if you’re careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is a testimony to its worth.”

I had an experience that made me understand this idea personally. I have a favorite painting that I found while we lived in Boston. It is easily over 100 years old and over the years has become all the more dear to me. One day someone was playing ball with our dog, near the painting. There was a candle burning on the table below it. The ball hit the candle and the wax sprayed all over the painting, the furniture and the wall behind the painting. I grabbed my painting and my daughter, who was standing in the other room, and dragged them both into my bedroom. In tears, I looked up into my daughter’s eyes and said, “Tell me it’s a thing, tell me it’s a thing.” She consoled me in her inspired way and we went on with the evening that involved a house full of relatives and friends. Later that night, around midnight, when everyone was asleep, I brought my painting out and laid it on the counter under the bright lights. I then worked, for hours, to lift the wax off my painting and the antique frame that surrounded it. Finally, I had done all that I could. I stood back and looked at it….it wasn’t the same…. But it was still beautiful, and in light of what I learned about “the art of mending,” it had become more beautiful, because now it had all the marks of my efforts to restore it, which was in the end, a “testimony to its worth.”…… and then I see the Lord, looking at His masterpiece -- beaten, battered and bruised by life ... and I see him working tirelessly in the garden, on a ultimate victory....His work and His glory...the wax is peeled away - and there we stand, glorious to behold - His grand testimony of our infinite worth.


Liz "The Best" O. said...

Sister Nelson,
Several of your daughters referred me to your blog and I am so grateful they did. I really appreciate reading your insights and about your experiences as a mother! I especially loved this post, not only about the art of mending, but how right after the painting was damaged, you reminded yourself that it was "just a thing" and that while it is important to you, it is not the most important. You are a great woman! Thank you for this blog AND for your awesome, wonderful children. And congratulations on being Mother of the Year!

Peggy Hodson said...

I loved this post! It is so great to have found someone else who thinks like me in this area (among others). It's not that broken things cannot be replaced--heaven knows we have a "disposable" society--and we are used to throwing away and buying new. But I agree that mending something you treasure is a testament to its personal value. It is the book that is ripped by the baby and taped together that reminds us of how well loved it was when the baby is grown. These things contain memories that their new replacements do not bring. There is also something very gratifying about being able to restore something broken. I am so glad someone else understands my need to mend things. I think it must be my small way of putting something right in the universe. Thank you for moving here Karen and being my friend. I can't think of a better mother than you to be Mother of the Year!

Kim Walus said...

I really love everything about this post and because I sew quite a bit it has a deeper meaning to me. I see, I feel, I understand, and I know the worth we each have to our Heavenly Father and his son, our brother, Jesus Christ. It's a beautiful image that you've shared with us. Thanks Karen!

Kristin Wilson said...

My Dear Karen,
I'm catching up!

As I read this post, I could see you painting in my mind's eye. I remember your telling me of the unfortunate accident and how you had picked the wax from the silk. Since that time, I have tried to view things as things.

Thank you for the wisdom you share so freely. I know you are truly inspired as you share your blog with others!