I’ve had mending on my mind and wanted to write about all forms of mending, but hadn’t been able to find a way in until I saw this:

“The Opposite of Hate is Mending,” by Kate Sekules
boro stitching

Mending 2a

I’m a long-time mender.  I recently fixed a favorite purse for my mother, replacing the torn pocket with some vivid yellow lining.  I stitched up a few other ripped places, re-glued the lining into the frame and sent it back to her; she was pleased as punch to have her little purse back in working order.

ChristAdulteress_0I always look for handsewing in pieces of art, and found it in this image by David Habben, in a recent art exhibit in Salt Lake City.  It depicts Jesus and the adulteress with her angry mob of accusers.  The clenched fists with rocks, the tortured shapes, and the vile expressions in the background convey the tension in this well-known scene.


In the foreground, Christ kneels and writes on the ground, this thread looping around his other hand.  This puzzled me, as I knew it wasn’t in the original story.


I found gold stitching in areas of the woman’s veil, clues to my small mystery.  My sister, viewing this with me, provided the connection: calmly drawing in the dust with his finger, the accusers slinking away after his measured rejoinder, Christ was mending.  The accused woman may have stitched her clothing, but now He would mend her soul.

A mended surface can carry a scar.  In the case of boro, or of artful kintsugi, we appreciate the addition.  But more often that not, we humans don’t want imperfections, or wrinkles, or sadness, death, old age, or any evidence of a rent place.  We want happy.  We want life to go on with daisies and sunshine and lollipops: no fights or bad diagnoses or mistakes that reverberate for generations.

For years I’ve taken comfort in Eugene O’Neill’s line: “Man is born broken.  He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”  Are we broken? Certainly we only have to the watch unbelievable tragedies of this past weekend trickle in a headline at a time on our screens, to know that broken and torn places are piling up somewhere in a onslaught of rage.  I turned away from the yet-again, awful headlines, not knowing what to do.

I take comfort in O’Neill’s wisdom, and Christ’s golden thread.   Rather than join the fury, I can fix a torn pocket, a broken heart, work through a quarrel, listen to someone who is trying to heal a shattered life. Whether at the epicenter of the current bad news or in our own homes, we can do our part to draw together the gaping edges, mending them with careful, even stitches.

13 thoughts on “Mending

  1. In Judaism, this is called Tikkun Olam, the repairing of the world. While I’m not religious, I’ve always believed in this concept that we should do what we can to achieve this mending. Some people are able to do it in a larger arena, some by performing small kindnesses to the people around them, whether strangers or friends. It all makes for a better world.

  2. So thoughtful. I feel a little better and a little more hopeful. The world is still crazy but in my corner with my quilt there is calm.



  3. I agree with patchworknplay’s comment above. One of your best posts. I love your analysis of the art, your tie in to our current world, and your conclusion about what we can do. Beautiful.

  4. Very thoughtful and beautiful post. Well said. May we all strive to be better at mending and embrace life’s imperfections. 🙂

  5. wonderful thoughtful post. I wish someone would mend this country of ours.
    we all need to mend where and when we can in the world right now.

  6. The headlines were awful, and it seems like the extreme ends of the political spectrum are getting noisier and more vitriolic. It can be disheartening.
    I have also been contemplating mending. My favourite jeans have torn in the seat. I am staring at them, trying to decide whether the remaining fabric has worn too thin to be repaired with a bit of visible boro mending. They might no longer be jeans but denim fabric remnants for remaking into something else.

  7. Thank you for this post! I think you’ve made us all think a bit today about what we are doing to make the world a better place…I think the “crazies” are the loudest and there are many of us who are doing our best to make this world a better place! (I am the “mender” of our family…the youngest grandson truly thinks I can fix anything! I try!)

  8. Thank you, Elizabeth, for the food for thought . I’m from Dayton and live in Dayton. The shooting here was just over a mile from my home. I grew up with the mother who lost both of her children in a matter of seconds. While I struggle to absorb this very immediate tragedy into my everyday living, I do find comfort in sewing by both hand and machine. In fact, I am just beginning a project using Moda’s Boro fabric line (both the wovens and quilting cottons). It’s made up of hundreds of HSTs, and the repetition in the process has been soothing rather than tedious. It feels like just what I need — putting something together over an extended period of time, enjoying the process and the purpose.

  9. Thank you so much for this inspiring post. Maybe this explains all the mending I’ve been doing in the past month, even pulling things tossed in my mending pile years ago and fixing the upholstery in our car.

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