Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Bent wires

The summer break has afforded me all kinds of opportunities to catch up. Some pleasurable - coffee with friends, lunches with friends, evenings with friends...Some necessary...doctor appointments, hair appointments, tidying appointments, sorting and throwing away appointments...And some - well, some that are both pleasurable and necessary in varying proportions.  Such as tiny mending chores, or restringing beads. Tightly wrapped bundles of frustration and satisfaction intertwined.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Is it REALLY necessary to mend the tiny holes in a pair of old gloves, when I could throw them away and buy another pair?  I find myself listing reason after reason:
1. Waste not, want not. Why spend money when, with a few stitches, they will last a little time longer as a 'spare pair' for when I have lost the others.
2. Growing up as a 'post-war-just-out-of-rationing-baby' has seeped frugality into my soul. I have to be frugal: it's my nature.
3. Decades of my life in Africa taught me not to throw away: the shame of consigning something perfectly serviceable to the garbage when it would be rescued, redeemed and recycled - many years before that became acceptable, let alone fashionable as it is now...
4. The mantra 'Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle'  is an inherent part of how I live...most stuff doesn't even make it as far as recycle. Just gets reused many times over in different forms before it is allowed to leave my ownership..
5. It's satisfying. It pleases me. In its own small way, mending and repairing things makes me happy. I'm in the business of redemption and restoration. Finishing a mending project puts a smile on my face.
So I mended gloves; repaired a string hammock (great for our camping trip later this month); kept a useful zip-up jacket in circulation with a few stitches to secure the zip; and customized a beloved cardigan into a little shrug. It had belonged to my grandmother, worn by me until my daughter pounced on it, loving it until the elbows wore through...some ribbon, a new hem, careful stitching... it's now hiding in her cupboard, waiting for her to come tomorrow.
Then I turned to different work with needle and thread. Favourite necklaces begged to be restrung, but it was the bracelet making that fascinated me. A scattered collection of colourful beads pleaded to be brought back to usefulness. Too few for necklaces, they gathered together in wrist-sized groups. A little stretchy elastic later, and I found myself with more beaded jewellery than a Rendille wife...It was fun.

But I put off the necklace repairs. Previously, I have struggled with a needle, the eye of which is so small as to be invisible if viewed in a poor light. (Or with middle-aged eyes, which is what mine reluctantly are.) But this time, I discovered a bead threader. A nifty little gadget, its design is so simple I'm amazed I haven't come across it before now. It has been my saviour in the process of necklace re-stringing. It is an ultra-thin piece of wire, doubled up on itself, and then twisted into a 'rope' with an eyelet on one end. Tease a piece of thread through the hole, then push the threader, cut ends first, through a bead and the thread follows. I repaired my necklaces in a matter of minutes.

That bead threader released me from the intense concentration needed to thread - and keep threaded - a needle. I had time to think. And so it was that while I was carefully threading nylon through tiny holes I started thinking about more important things than jewellery.
Because mending something physical is so much easier than attempting to mend a broken relationship. Even just thinking about it brings on a frown...
It was the bead threader's fault in more ways than one. Not only did it give me time to think, it showed me how relationships can go wonky at times. Because as I used that brilliant little piece of wire, I found that, like a relationship, I had to keep on working with it.  That wire was so thin and flexible that when I pushed it through a narrow bead it started to bend. I had to stop and straighten out the kinks before I could carry on using it.

Like a relationship, really. 

I noticed several things.  
I noticed that, when the bead hole was large, the bead threader had no issues with it. There was plenty of space for it to pass through, and so I didn't have to do anything except, occasionally, pat it and smooth it down.  The distance between the bead threader and the bead hole was so large that much could be forgiven. The sides of the hole and the threader barely touched.
Relationships don't usually go awry when I am not close to someone.

I noticed that, when the hole was narrow, the ends of the bead threader caught. I had to pull the threader out, straighten it firmly between fingers and thumb, and then try again. Sometimes I had to try a couple of times before I could thread the bead.
Relationships, when close, can cause difficulty.

I noticed that, just like the bead threader, relationships can become twisted and bent. They need a lot of work to straighten them out. It takes time and effort. Maybe a chat over coffee doesn't resolve an issue straight away. Maybe a lunch is needed, too. 

I noticed that sometimes that bead threader just didn't work. It wouldn't do what it was supposed to.
Relationships,like the bead threader, are sometimes not 'fit for purpose'.
So, I wondered, what is the 'purpose' of my relationships? And what does God want to do in and through those relationships - particularly when they are difficult?

To be continued

No comments:

Post a Comment