Notes from Jan

When Throwaway meets Radical Mending

June 7, 2022

Did the title nudge you to hit “unsubscribe”? Well, even if I write only to figure out what I’m thinking, I’ll keep at it. For starters, the idea originated in a May 22, 2022 Boston Globe article entitled, Radical Menders Vs. Disposable Everything by Veronique Greenwood. It’s about salvaging, but not just through needlework. The author states, radical mending is “a grassroots movement challening our throwaway culture by fixing clothes with repairs that make fashion statements on their own.”

Well, it didn’t take me long to leap from fabrics to folks. Who doesn’t need mending? Do you know anyone who hasn’t been ripped apart by someone or something? Worn down by use or abuse? Unraveling at the seams? Made wrong choices or failed to act? (Silence isn’t always golden.) But before I plunge into despair, I take hope from times I showed up, like the prodigal son in Luke 15, and Jesus welcomed me home. Sometimes Jesus used other folks, music, solitude, books or circumstances to mend. But, looking back, God’s Radical Mender, oversaw and oversees my ongoing restoration. Yours,too.

A lot needs fixing. Landfills, lawyers and lines drawn demonstrate our preference to toss rather than mend. Whch is why I’m fascinated with Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery. Instead of tossing and replacing with new, the artist pieces together with gold. The cracks, highlighted by gold, transform the scars into beautiful art. The broken becomes stronger and even more valuable through this re-creation.

In contrast, the word sincere tells another tale. The story exposes when some sculptors hid flaws with wax. However, when held to the light, the cracks became obvious. So to be sincere meant to be without (sin) wax(cera). While not all scholars agree with this etymology, it works for me and the value of visible mending, versus hiding flaws. As for a definition, most agree that to be sincere is to be true, not false.

So where’s this going? Well, lets starts with choosing something cracked or broken in our country, churches or relationships. It helps me to begin with the premise that no institution or person is perfect. All need mending. But like AA, it begins by admitting the truth, not acting like all cracked pots are on the other side, in another church, race, political party, gender or family.

Yesterday I read the following in Buechner’s, Listening to Your Life: Bebb, a preacher sort, likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a “love feast where nobody’s a stranger.” He reminds his listeners, “we all got secrets… done hurtful things… all scared and lonesome, but most of the time we keep it hid.” Then adds, “It’s like everyone of us has lost his way, so bad we don’t even know which way is home any more only we’re ashamed to ask.” And if we asked? ” Why, what would happen is we’d find our home is each other. We’d find our home is Jesus that loves us lost or found or any whichway.”

Even broken?


Veronique Greenwood concluded her article on Radical Menders with, “In the daily crush of things you can’t control and events you can’t believe are happening, a small act of resurrection feels significant all out of proportion to its size.

Resurrection handwork.


Who knows what a stitch in time saves when something or, especially, someone lands in the hands of a radical mender.

All Heaven breaks loose.

That’s what happens.

Holy Cracked Pots!


Broken but blessed, bearing the mark of The Master Mender’s nail-scarred hands.

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  • Reply Patty Hanlon June 7, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    Jan, this (a mending project) could be an outreach! Anne Pelikan introduced me to a artist’s collaborative project down in Boston, where people brought clothing that needed mending to a team of “menders” (which of course included AP). The mending was colorful and visible, and a good time was had by all. Maybe a Christ Church annual event?

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2022 at 2:25 pm

      Well, coming from you, an artist who does amazing work with fabrics, this is a purposeful idea, Patty. Christ Church is a haven for artists and folks eager to extend the love and healing touch of Jesus beyond our walls. We’d gather to mend holes in clothing and our relationships. Sacred stitchers. I love our church. And you and Robert are a big part of that. Thanks for taking time to read and respond. I write from California. Out here for my grandson’s graduation from high school. Hard to believe Luke sang at Jud’s memorial service when he was just 11 years old.

  • Reply Dale June 7, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    Sometimes “amen” is sufficient. It’s not that I don’t have other thoughts but only that they are not needed.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 7, 2022 at 8:55 pm

      I’ll take an “amen” from you any day of the week. Hope you’re at Burt Lake enjoying ongoing birthday reminders that your life matters to so many. You and Marty continue to be radical menders to me, as you were to Jud. Thank you so much for the birthday cards from you and Marty and the words and memories shared. I’ve decided 82 is a good age, something you can look forward to in a few years, my brother.

  • Reply Barbara G. Nelson June 9, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    Love your notes!!! Always uplift me, make me think and appreciate!!! Hugs.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2022 at 2:08 am

      Thank you, Barbara. That’s a dose of encouragement late on this Sunday night; One of our roles is to help each other make it home.
      Also to make mending more than fashionable…a calling, when it comes to relationships.

  • Reply Jeri Mahurin June 11, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Love this Jan! Are you familiar with Mako Fujimura? He is such a gifted artist and speaker and has a few videos on kintsugi, which I find so compelling:

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 13, 2022 at 2:14 am

      Thanks, Jeri. I’m familiar with his art but not his videos on kintsugi. I appreiate your sharing this for other readers. Always good to hear form you.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold June 18, 2022 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve heard about Kintsugi before, lovely image to remember, thanks Jan.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 18, 2022 at 2:36 pm

      It’s an amazing art form. You’re artitstic, I think you’d enjoy looking into it more.

  • Reply Wendy June 26, 2022 at 10:32 am

    Ah so many things I love about this post! I am thankful beyond words that God is a radical mender, loving father, good shepherd – because He knows how much I need each of those roles. I’m also broken hearted about the church these days. Personally I think the church needs to find Jesus! They’ll find that yes indeed Jesus loves us and everyone lost or found or any which way! Thankful for your “radical” words dear Jan!!!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 27, 2022 at 12:06 pm

      My heart hurts for The Church, too, dear Wendy. I fluctuate between anger and hope.The more the Church resembles our culture but with a steeple atop instead of a tiara, we’re on the wrong side. We’re more of a capitalist than a Christ follower. Keep mending, Wendy and stay mendable. My prayer for me, too.

      • Reply Wendy June 27, 2022 at 12:13 pm


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