I’ve got a Victorian sofa in my backyard, covered with a blue tarp.

It’s in the backyard, because it is no longer on the front porch – and it is no longer on the front porch because there are contractors buzzing around my house sanding away all the old paint on this old house.

I picked up the couch via Freecycle a year or so ago, hoping that I could restore it.  If not, there was little loss.  The couch was free and I have most of the fabric and such available.  The cost would be minimal – new stuffing.  It’s been sitting there waiting for me to find the time to do it, as well as the inclination.

I’ve done some re-upholstering before.  It’s facinating and frustrating all at the same time.  Generally with the older pieces there are layers upon layers of patch jobs done by amateurs such as myself.  In one piece (the chair in my living room) I knew that my grandmother had put in one layer, and because I knew the story of this chair, I imagined that it was her neighbor who had the layer before that.  It’s archaeology meets forensics meets Joann Fabrics!

This couch is beyond simple repair and patching, and will require me to remove the works.  I’ll use some of the old material that is still useable (the springs and the frame) but the rest will require something new.  I will do all this work, not certain I will like the final outcome, but knowing that I cannot leave it as it is.

Meanwhile, the sanders work on the house and I wonder if they aren’t a part of a similar experiment.  They’ve removed some of the wood that is hopeless, and have sanded and resanded the wood that can be saved.  If you look closely at the edges where the sanders can fully reach, you can see the layers of paint upon the wood – a colorful visual history of what once was.

We’re in a Recession, the money is extremely tight, and we’re painting the Manse.  I realize that we need to address the problem before it becomes worse (and ends up costing us even more) but I’m still not sure we’ve got our priorities right.  If we attacked the other less visible issues (the non-building issues) in our church (and our denomination!) with the same vigor, I might feel less ambiguous.  It’s as if we are as a church (locally and denominationally) rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Scratch that.  We’re reupholstering and repainting and THEN rearranging the chairs on the Titanic

I think it IS time to reupholster and sand and scrape and begin with that framework and structure that is sound – but not on the physical church.  I think we’re at the point where we (again, locally and globally) need to really dig at and tear apart what we have and to begin anew.  Unlike my Freecycle couch, however, there is much at stake.  It is not just the work of our ancestors that may need to be ripped out or re-fitted but it’s some of the more recent work that has been done which our own hands have worked on and touched.  The investment in the Church is far more than the investment in my couch.

Which is why it really shouldn’t sit out there under a tarp for much longer waiting for us to have the time or the initiative.

What would I keep?  What would I rip away? 

What would YOU keep?  What would YOU rip away?

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