No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak.
If he does, its fullness pulls away,
the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.
Many of us encounter times in the spiritual life when our faith feels worn and frayed, like an old cloak with holes in it. And sometimes we need to examine our lives and find the places that need to be sewn back together again. But mending those places will take patience and time. We can’t expect a quick fix or a shortcut—that would only make things worse, by stretching the existing fabric until it tears further. We must use cloth that has been treated to match the rest of the fabric, that fits with its surroundings. We are working with a cloak that has grown and changed with us over time, slowly and gradually adjusting to fit us. When we sew patches and make new changes, we have to take the time to examine the patches as well, carefully and slowly handling them until they fit with the rest of the cloak. Something that works for someone else might not work for us; something that used to work for us might not be what we need right now.
Little by little, we can improve and strengthen our spiritual lives—but not all at once, not without consideration of how we can make changes that will actually last. Instead of slapping on a patch of new fabric and then becoming frustrated when it doesn’t hold, we must seek the patches that fit within the cloak we have now.
Image: Albert Anker, The Village Tailor / PD-US