A stitch in time

This morning, as I looked at the chasuble (the outer vestment worn while celebrating Mass) draped over a nearby chair and awaiting some stitches to reattach a tab, I was reminded of a few frantic moments I experienced not too long ago. My bags were packed and I was set to leave my house for the airport on my way to visiting my family in Ireland when, to my utter horror, I realized that I was getting a cool breeze in the seat of my pants. 

You see the stitching had let go in the seam and I was in grave danger of further exposure. For a moment I thought of hastily threading a needle and doing a quick fix. Then luckily I remembered that I had other dress pants in my closet and so I quickly got into them. It was too late for a “stitch in time.” I had to catch my plane.

Now when we hear the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine,” the natural tendency may be to ask, “Saves nine what?” Of course in the literal sense of the phrase it means sewing a small tear now, rather than having to do more stitching later when the tear has become catastrophic. So a timely effort will prevent more work later. That is one reason why I feed my cats now rather than later, when they might threaten to tear down my door and then I have to call on the carpenter. 

So it is here in our Kalaupapa settlement. Those little creatures of God, called termites, are very active in the settlement. They love to chew on our wooden walls which makes it necessary at times to tent and treat our structures in order to stop their devastation before the building collapses. Such is what was done with our movie house, Pasqual Hall, before it was restored and rededicated a few years ago. So also the pool hall was reroofed and painted last year before it deteriorated beyond repair. A stitch in time saves nine.

Currently the area in the vicinity of the new Baldwin Home which is adjacent to the mule corral is being cleaned up and landscaped. It had been used as a dumping site in the past and visited frequently by rats and wild pigs. Now it is being restored to its original pristine beauty before further deterioration can set in or destroy it.

Restoration and preservation are very much a part of our lives here in Kalaupapa. We begin by keeping alive the memory of our saints, Damien and Marianne, as well as all those who have gone before us over the course of 150 years. We do so with the restoration and preservation of our historic buildings and sites. We do so with patience, love and reverence. We do so because we know that a stitch in time saves nine.

If you would like to coordinate a pilgrimage to Kalaupapa or to the island of Molokai, please contact Margaret Uiagalelei, Development director of the Sacred Hearts Congregation at 808-292-8172 or email development@sscc.org.

Anchor columnist Father Killilea is pastor of St. Francis Parish in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

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