Replacing repairs

Cobblers used to be in high demand

Oh dear. “The car’s knackered, we’re going to have to walk”. That was the response of someone whose car had broken down near to us yesterday. He put a brave face on the diagnosis from the RAC man (diagnosis took ten seconds!). I would have at least kicked the tyres. We had our own breakdown the other week. Our two year old washing machine was going to cost £290 to repair – the exact cost of a new replacement. It seems that everything is getting very complicated, and it becomes increasingly difficult to see what’s gone wrong. The problem with our washing machine was the electronic control board, as is the case with most broken equipment these days. Replacing is replacing repair. I used to be a regular visitor to the TV repair man with our Ferguson TX. Where is the TV repair man now?

One of the features of childhood evenings was watching my Mum darning holes in socks, referred to as “doing the mending”. Is it a lost art? Have repairs been replaced? Repairs are easier when you can see how pipes and wires have come apart and how they can be re-paired.

mendingThis quote from Dag Hammarskjold captures the wonder of mending and repair.

Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.

Brokenness featured in conversation yesterday. Relationships are easily broken. Fortunately we get well used to re-pairing ourselves from our temporary separations and breaks. But occasionally, the hurt is profound and the damage irreparable, and the longer it persists the more difficult the repair becomes. It’s as if the broken ligaments of the relationship wither till there is nothing to be re-paired. A stitch in time saves nine.

We may be able to forgive, but that may not be enough to re-pair. Surely a re-pair is impossible without something to throw a line to, something to hold on to – whether that be a word, a gesture, or understanding and remorse?

(Feigned) Remorse
There’s remorse, and then there’s remorse!

A local headteacher was telling me about a small child in his school who had kicked one of the older children. “He showed no remorse” was the head’s comment. That is a problem that child is going to have to overcome. If he doesn’t become remorseful how can those he hurts ever forgive him. What a tragic life he has in front of him unless he can learn remorsefulness. Remorse is what we can get hold of when we want to forgive and be re-paired. Instead of reparation, remorselessness brings separation.

It may be that life is too complicated for us to see how it is broken. It may be that things have become a lot more reliable. It may be that in a blame culture we have to insist that we don’t break, that we are reliable, and not liable. It may be that our business in a consumer culture has lost the hard work and deep satisfaction of repair. It may be that we can’t see how we are broken.

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