Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, "What has been is what shall be, what has been done is what shall be done, and there is no new matter under the sun. Is there a matter of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It was here already, long ago.
I think of this scripture often with the ways of the world, developing into what appears to be "new" evils and "new" advancements. However, this past year I found myself remembering this specific passage while mending holes in jeans. As I measured, cut, pinned, sewed and stitched I thought of the times gone by when generations before me knew this as a way of life, not a shortcut to delay purchasing new jeans or getting through the children's growth spurts. I thought how even for those mature generations (preindustrial revolution) the idea of mending garments, and fences and repairing broken goods was not a new concept. Understanding the time, hard work, and sacrifice that went into making a product or earning the assets to trade for said product gave value and responsibility and respect to the things we owned.
I have pondered the thought that the times we are living in, and these younger generations (myself included) must be new in their carelessness, quick fast fashion, and microwave expectations. Scripture tells me that isn't the case. There is nothing new under the sun. I am no history buff; therefore, I am currently unaware of a time in history when such valueless living was a way of life, but I am sure there are many times throughout history it was so. Factories produce items, food and cars at rates unimaginable just 200 years ago. Machines plant and harvest fields in a matter of days. Monopolized businesses have sprung up in every small town and on every corner in the big cities full of mass produced, cheaply made, imported products. The hardest thing most people do now is work their job to exchange their time for money so they can give their money for their materials.
My family traded in the life I mentioned. I mend jeans because I value time. I value time with my husband home more, working less. I mend jeans because I understand the blessing of having them in the first place. I mend jeans because I am not too proud to show our hard work wears well. I mend jeans because the land fill needs less. I mend jeans because an underpaid worker somewhere in the world got a break from sewing me a new pair.
My husband mends fences to keep our boundaries defined and strong. He mends fences because it forces him to know what is going on from one corner of our property to the next. He mends fences because he too values his time. He mends fences because he understands hard work and has learned the value of getting dirty and repairing what's broken, not buying something new.
I learned a lot last year. I learned how to mend a pair jeans. I learned how to mend broken fences. I didn't learn anything new, see. No, rather, I grabbed onto a generation's-old ideology and way of life and learned how to apply it to the life we are living now. Mending jeans and mending fences is "what has been and is what shall be". Repairing the broken is "what has been done is what shall be done". I encourage you to step out of the ways of microwaves and fast fashion. Plant a seed, watch it grow. Mend a pair of jeans, wear them confidently. Mend a broken fence and strengthen your fortress.
Are there any matters of which can be said, “See, this is new”? No, friend. "It was here already, long ago."