Repurposing

There are many things I should be doing, or could be doing, today – many items on my TO DO list. And yet I am drawn to things that need repaired, or fixed, or tidied. I wondered aloud if I am distracted by these things to avoid my lists, or if something about these distractions could be a call to metaphor, a call to spiritual work. With that question, my Inner Critic stopped pestering about the List. Indeed there was a metaphor coming, and so I began.

Months ago, Hubby reported that the zipper on the sleeping bag had broken. I’m not one to toss a perfectly good sleeping bag because the zipper is broken and the fabric torn. The other day, I carefully removed that zipper, and put the sleeping bag back on the table where it had perched for months. Now what?

Well, I could make a Crazy Quilt…. I have loads of fabric, because, after all, I’m not one to toss perfectly good scraps of fabric, or shirts with ink stains. Do I need a Crazy Quilt? No, not really, not any more than I need a broken sleeping bag. But a Crazy Quilt would be a good repurpose. How long would I let this sit, in plain sight, waiting? Should I tackle it and get it out of the way? Or should I tuck it into storage for that elusive Someday.

The thought of a possible metaphor was enticing. Curiosity won. List set aside, I mined my fabric collection, searching my heart for Spirit’s leading. What might this task be telling me? How many things in our lives are kept, tucked away unused, just in case? How many items are forgotten in store rooms and attics, for our children to eventually sort through, toss, and roll their eyes at? Case in point, some of the fabric I have tucked away had been in my mother’s collection, upholstery samples too good to toss.

I think of our churches: old hymnbooks and choir music, old banners never used, leftovers from congregations long gone, rooms unused except to store things, pews that sit empty, treasures kept and forgotten. Is it time to repurpose these things, now before we are old and feeble? Now before no one remembers why certain things were kept at all, like the ancient photos in my father’s photo chest? Can we make a “Crazy Quilt” out of our gathered materials and structures that could be useful to someone, somewhere?

I expect I will soon have a repurposed sleeping bag to give away. Someone out there is cold. Someone out there needs this, and I do not. I doubt it will be a piece of art, but it will be useable. Is it time to rethink and repurpose much about how we do church, in order to make something useful for our community or the world? Or will we just keep storing things.

Jesus told the story about a farmer who said, “I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”  But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?” (Luke 12:18-20, CEV).

Published by dreambringer

Retired from a career in private practice psychology. Ordained to ministry in the United Church of Canada. Mother, grandmother, dreamer, writer.

4 thoughts on “Repurposing

  1. Alice I am still hauling around treasured leavings of my parents, and even some of grandparents. Replete with memories I don’t share or know the stories of, Valentines from children who were old people when I knew them.I love your metaphor and the idea of repurposing into something that someone can find use or pleasure in.

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    1. Here’s a story of repurposing that made me cry. My brother renovated our childhood home, replacing the kitchen cupboards built by my father when I was a toddler. While I understood the need for the update, I was sad to see our father’s handiwork removed.

      Unbeknownst to me, my sister took the cupboard doors home. Later she gifted one to me, refinished, repainted, and repurposed into a walk hanging – Family is Forever – with a little clothes line and tiny clothes pins for hanging family photos, complete with photos of my grandchildren. My heart exploded with grateful tears. ❤️

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  2. I have been repurposing for as long as I can remember. I have reframed, rebuilt old buildings, requilted old quilts and completed old quilt blocks, I have scraped old furniture and refinished into beautiful pieces to be cherished. Through all of this, I am reminded daily that I am probably the only one who cherish these old things, but that is perfectly 0kay with me. I am reminded often of my special and beloved friend and Aunt Brom, who adored me as much as I loved her. I think about my two Gram’s whom I never got to meet in person. I think of Fred’s Nanny who seemed to love me and thought I was pretty smart and even cute. I remember fondly Fred’s Father who walked about our property, looking for the four leaf clovers. Memories of people will forever be with me and the ‘things’ I keep are just to remind me that I was and am loved. My hope is that our children will only want ‘a few things’ to remind them how much they are treasured and loved as well.

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  3. Mmm. I agree with Fred’s Nanny. You ARE smart and cute. I love the history of things. Some things I store with notes, like the wool blanket spun and woven by my grandmother’s mother, from wool produced here on the farm, or my other great-grandmother’s knitting needles. I have a tattered quilt, though, with no story other than that it was special to Mom. Daddy didn’t know why.

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