A month ago on a long drive to Madison Emily taught me to darn socks. Basically you sew along the circumference of the hole, warp it like a loom and then weave. Darning thread is comprised of four strands so you don’t have to be precise about moving in and out. It’s surprisingly, ridiculously, easy.
Ever since, I’ve been (dare I admit it?) ecstatic. Emily and I are reluctant to throw away quality goods (anyone want ten Styrofoam medical coolers?), so my darning abilities now mean that the pile of Smart Wool socks with holes accumulating in our mending basket will finally vanish. I’m suddenly rich in socks. I’ve achieved a new and satisfying level of self-sufficiency. By recovering a small skill that’s been forgotten for a few generations, every time I get dressed I can thumb my nose at disposable consumerism. What could be better?
As I revel in my resurrected socks, my warm feet have been walking me through their theological implications. With a little skill and a little effort, I can participate in giving the dead new life. Okay, perhaps this is dramatic, but there’s a stitch of truth here: We all have within us the holy capacity to find what was once lost, to mend that which was torn, to bring life, in however humble a way, to that which was lifeless. Something about our willingness makes God’s work possible through us. When we experience resurrection on a small scale, with socks or a garden plot or a friendship, we know its truth on a big scale, with the planet’s health or the well-being of our own souls. There’s continuity between the details and universal truths.
When stores are stocked with socks and swiping a piece of plastic can make them yours, it’s easy to forget our resurrection capacities. But new life isn’t something that simply happens, deus ex machina. It’s something we participate in. Next time you see me, I’d be happy to show off the evidence.
–Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew