Thursday, July 7, 2016

Repairing Damage

I’d been watching for her, so when the tall, long-haired woman walked across the small parking lot, came in through the door, and immediately approached me, I was not surprised. “Are you Barbara?” “Yes, you must be Kristin?” And so it began.

We all know about Internet dating, but this was something different. Still, with my age and experience, it is not something I ever could have envisioned myself doing. But I’ve learned to never say never, and in this instance it was a sort of modern day miracle – and yes, thanks to the Internet.

We climbed the stairs to the second floor and settled ourselves into the only couch in this small, cozy, eclectic coffee shop. It was the idea place to meet – casual, easy to find, and centrally located. After a bit of small talk to acquaint ourselves with each other, I pulled my treasure from the large bag I had carried in. Before us lay the white, hand-crocheted coverlet that my mother-in-law had painstakingly made back in the 1940s, lovingly created of thin cotton thread with a variety of intricate stitches. “I lied” I said. “Instead of four or five areas to fix, there’s more like twelve…” Kristin studied it carefully. “That’s OK” she said “let me go get my kit.”

I had packed this coverlet away, safety pins marking and holding in place the areas that had unraveled. I had considered repairing it myself, even buying a “how-to” book on crocheting. It did not take long, however, for me to decide that this was not something I wanted to attempt. Asking around for someone who might repair it gleaned no results, so I finally submitted my request to a local group via the Internet, complete with a couple of photographs. Someone who saw my plea asked for permission to share on a local needle crafters' site which is how Kristin heard about it. She responded immediately: “… I have experience repairing vintage crochet and knitting work and it's something I really love to do. I love that you value the piece for sentimental reasons and I would be happy to help you keep it around for many more years…I will bring my kit, if the picture shows the full extent of the damage it's possible that I can fix it then and there for you.” She included some references, we discussed her charge, and agreed to meet.

Her repair kit included different spools of cotton thread, in various shades of white, and a selection of crochet hooks. Carefully, she held the different threads against the coverlet and crocheted a few stitches, meticulously comparing the different shades and sizes of the work – asking me what I thought – until we were both satisfied with the results. Then, she settled in to do her work. For the rest of the morning she worked, while I sipped my coffee and visited with this most interesting and talented woman. When she was done, the final results were more than satisfactory – the heirloom looked as if it had never been damaged at all. I expressed my gratitude, paid her what we’d agreed upon, and we went our separate ways. Perhaps our paths will cross again – perhaps not – but we agreed that we’d enjoyed the time together and we are both richer for that brief time we shared.

Our lives are much like this aged coverlet, intricately stitched together in different patterns, textures, and subtle colors. Often, we experience a closeness and tight-knittedness which strengthens and melds us together; in-between spaces allow for variety, independence, and breathing space. There is a rhythm and a beauty which fulfills us and keeps us on an even keel.

Some relationships may be delicate and can break on minor issues and simple misunderstandings. Others, although strong, may suffer major damage through severe trial, tragedy, broken trust, or a myriad of other situations beyond our control. When damage occurs, it threatens to destroy all that holds us together. We must admit the relationship is broken, slowly start to rebuild it by tackling each small problem, and create a stronger foundation. Mending broken relationships is never quick or easy, but over time, it can be done. Sometimes, we can do the mending ourselves – and sometimes we need help. Trust that it’s out there…

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.   Colossians 3:12-13

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