by The Rev. Kathy Boss, Chaplain
Mahatma Gandhi sitting peacefully in his loincloth spinning; it is one of his iconic postures. Gandhi began spinning while he was in prison, using the thread he spun to weave his own clothing. This simple and repetitive act of making khadi, the homespun cloth from which clothing had been made in India for many years, became something much bigger. It became a proclamation and a path to independence for India, a path to peace, and to greater connection.
In the Christian scriptures of the Gospel, we encounter the first apostles as they are called by Jesus to follow him. They are brothers, fishermen, who have just come in from fishing. James and John are mending their nets. This was a daily act for fisherfolk—finding the tears and the holes, repairing them, looking for the next one. Nets would have been laid across the laps of several people as they chatted, sang, and mended. From this place of mending, Jesus called them to follow him. Jesus invited them to become fishers of people—an enterprise that would take a different kind of mending—mending the nets of love, compassion, and relationship that they would need as fishers of people.
These acts of sewing, mending, weaving, spinning show up in the sacred texts of almost every religion. Metaphors based on these acts are some of the most familiar. We spin stories, our lives are tapestries, we mend our relationships, and so much more. But this familiarity, the domesticity of them, can make them easy to brush aside. Yet, little ordinary moments of mending—of repairing a hurt, reconnecting with a friend, making a small gesture of love when someone is sad—these are more important now than ever before.
There is no getting around the fact that this past year has been hard on schools, that it has created wear and tear in the hearts and bodies of students, parents, faculty, and staff across the globe. In the last six months as chaplain at The White Mountain School, I have witnessed something that, I believe, sets this school apart—a willingness to tend to the mending, to pay attention, and respond with calm, compassion, communication, and, yes, love.
When the pressure of COVID-19, of the political climate, and even of those everyday stresses of life at school arise, we assess and address, stitching together, spinning new thread for a better fitting garment, responding to the needs of the community. It can be tedious work. It can feel overwhelming looking at the pile of mending to be done. But there is also a beautiful creativity to it, a creativity that will make our school and students stronger and more compassionate, curious, and creative in the long run.
In Japan, there is an art of mending called Kintsugi, in which broken pottery is mended using precious metals like gold and silver that have been mixed into a strong and enduring lacquer. The result is something different, but equally, if not more beautiful. White Mountain and schools across the world have endured much, but there is something in the mending and the healing that is making us stronger, more beautiful, more connected, and that is where the hope lies.
I invite you to consider what needs mending in your life. It may literally be a piece of clothing, or a toaster in your kitchen, or it might be a relationship, or a creative impulse you’ve had for years but let fall into disrepair. Take it out, love it, see it, and begin the work of mending. It may be slow work; it may seem too simple for such a grave time as this. Try it anyway. These are the acts that will rebuild us, that will make us anew in courage, compassion, and creativity.
Be well, and take care.
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a gender-inclusive, college-preparatory boarding and day school for 140 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.