All Things Possible
by Fran Farlow
Grinning widely, the two pranksters hefted the bedraggled, lilac-spotted chair into the middle of my living room.
It was the ugliest chair I’d ever seen, and the faces of the two carrying it were filled with fiendish glee. “A perfectly good chair and someone’s thrown it away,” my daughter said with a conspiring smile. “We found it by the side of the road,” my son-in-law added. “Can you imagine throwing this away? What were they thinking?”
A post-Depression child, I was known for remaking things others had thrown away. My mantra was the Depression axiom, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
Once, one of my friends gave me a plastic garbage bag filled with things she was tossing, “in case there’s something you can use.” From one bag I had rescued usable cotton pieces for a patchwork quilt. I stayed up late one night pulling fringes on pieces of her throwaway kitchen curtains, making them into tea towels. (I gave her three of those for Christmas that year.)
Now my words were coming back to haunt me!
After the giggling kids had left, I sat down and took stock. “What in the world can I do with you?” I asked, not really expecting an answer from the ugly chair.
“I’ve held mothers as they soothed and sang to their babies; I’ve provided comfort for older folks as they rested and looked back on their memories. I’ve welcomed people home after long, wearisome days
. . . and I can do it again,” the chair seemed to say to me as I looked at it ruefully.
Renewing this old chair would be a real challenge, but something made me willing to try.
First, I tested the sturdiness of the chair legs: no shimmy, no shake – the chair stood firm on all four legs – a firm foundation. That reminded me of the hymn “How Firm a Foundation Is Jesus.” With that song ringing in my mind, I felt I was ready to start to work.
I had to find something to weave into those broken holes on the sides of the chair, and I knew I could not work with the original wickerwork or rattan. I am strictly an amateur at that kind of work.
Finding a soft, supple replacement for wicker or rattan would be another challenge. I walked from do-it-yourself stores to home décor places, finally finding a type of twine that resembled the chair’s body, but would be easier to thread in and out of the broken-off spots.
Now I was ready to start and, as always, I looked to my Bible for inspiration, leafing through my mother’s well-worn concordance for just the right verses. Renew: that’s what I hoped to do. There’s a verse in Psalms about renewing a right spirit within ourselves. I took time off to look it up: Psalm 51:10, “put a new and right spirit within me.” That day, with renewal on my mind, busily weaving the twine in and out, I finished the back of the chair. Once filled in, the back began to look like a throne, reminding me of another verse in Psalm 45:6, “Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.”
After coffee the next morning, it was time to tackle the arms of what was starting to become my chair. The arm sections were made up of two sections: the section where a hand would rest and a lower section supporting the hand rest. The lower section looked easy enough, a simple cross weave, but the hand rest looked challenging. I only had a small space to weave the twine in and out. “Here we go,” I told myself, taking up my refrain, “How Firm a Foundation.”
Oh those hand sections! Too small for me to be able to weave in and out without a great deal of trouble. It was the verse in Deuteronomy that helped strengthen my spirit: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms . . . ” (33:27, NIV). That one verse helped give me the patience to weave those hand rests slowly, carefully (and to refrain from using more colorful language!). So far, so good.
Now to the seat. It was covered with a tattered fabric, but was spring-filled for comfort and well worth saving. I gave it a good scrubbing and set it out in the sun to dry while I shopped fabric stores for a bit of brightly colored material. I wanted the chair to appear, once again, warm and welcoming. Light and airy, colorful and cheerful, that’s the effect I was after. I wanted my chair to be attractive again, a welcome-home invitation to any new owner. A fresh coat of soft white paint, new seat cover, and two toss pillows added to the come-sit-on-me-and-rest appearance. My work was done.
It was Jesus who offered, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). The chair seemed to epitomize that spirit, offering a place of temporary relaxation and welcome.
The chair and I stood together to greet the two jokesters when they came to look at my “new” chair. Although I stood back and watched appreciatively while they examined the new chair, I had to rub it in a little bit. “Use it up, wear it up, make it do, or do without,” I quoted in a singsong voice, smothering it with laughter. I finished off by reminding them, seriously, “You know, with God, all things are possible.”
Fran Farlow lives in North Carolina.