One of the wonderful things I've discovered about priestly life is that there are very few fashion choices to be made. Beyond a black suit and rabat, the beginning and end of choice is in accessories: which cuff links? handkerchief or not? wrist or pocket watch? Socks also fall into this category of fashion minutia that are left to my volition. Unfortunately, though, I have an irritating proclivity for putting holes in my blacks socks.
Through a bit of thrift and a sense of economy I recently had the thought that perhaps my socks could be darned to give them longer life. After briefly suggesting to B that she might learn how to do this, I decided I would learn to darn myself. After some youtube tutorials, I had a go at it. The first few holes I attempted to darn I effectively sewed the holes, giving an unpleasant pleat to the sock. I also realized that a darning egg--a tool with which I was not previously familiar--might be a welcome addition to my needle and embroidery thread (on one hole my needle caught the opposite side of the sock!). Here are some pictures of the darning egg I turned from local Oklahoma mulberry wood and the log from which it came and finally the fruit of my labours.
Some, I know, will think I've lost my mind when they read that I'm now darning socks. But in our society, material culture moves in a line from natural resources, manufacturer, consumer, finally to the end of the "usefulness" of any given product. Even using the word consumer indicates how we view material objects. Perhaps compelled by my Protestant heritage of thriftiness and manual labor, I try to think of material culture as a circle, finding uses for the so-called unusable and obsolete. In our back yard, we've got a moderately large sycamore tree (at least for Oklahoma). In the spring, when the wind picks up in Oklahoma, the tree normally sheds a number of small twigs. In the morning, we'll find the grass strewn with these little twigs. Instead of raking them up and disposing of them in the trash, for the past two winters I've saved them in a back corner of the backyard and then use them for kindling when winter comes around. The useless has a use. This attitude to me seems in keeping with the economy of God's gracious providence in which nothing is without purpose. It is certainly my hope that our economy today will teach my generation the value of thriftiness, which is not, of course, to be confused with miserliness or stinginess.