“We must both, I’m afraid, recognize that, as we grow older, we become like old cars — more and more repairs and replacements are necessary” (C. S. Lewis).
AS OUR BODIES BECOME DILAPIDATED, WE’RE REMINDED THAT REPAIRS ARE A FACT OF LIFE. We spend what seems like an inordinate amount of time fixing things, and we probably wish we could spend that time in more productive pursuits, but in the real world, repairs are unavoidable. We have to take time for maintenance.
The reason repairs are necessary is that everything tends to degrade. Over time, everything falls into “disrepair.” And this is no less true of intangible things than it is of those that are physical. Left to themselves, things don’t get better — they degrade. It’s true of houses. It’s true of appliances. It’s true of everything in the world.
Note, however, that we don’t have to actually damage something in order for it to become dilapidated. Things degrade all by themselves. If we simply do nothing, we’ll still find that repairs have to be made. In fact, it’s doing nothing that usually increases the need for repairs. When we neglect something and it starts to fall apart, rather than make the small repair promptly, we put it off. And eventually, the fix is much more drastic and costly than it should have been.
It was Samuel Johnson who said, “A man, sir, should keep his friendships in constant repair.” He was right. Whatever physical possessions we have that require maintenance, our relationships are even more important to tend to — and just as our physical “stuff” needs occasional fixing, so do our relationships. None of us has any relationship that doesn’t have to be repaired from time to time. And the closer and more intimate the relationship, the more we should value it enough to fix it when it needs fixing. Repairs are a big part of love.
Unfortunately, some damage can never be fully repaired. But when we’ve harmed others — even by neglect — we should want to make whatever repairs we can. If there is any compensation we can make, we should be eager to make it. In the end, our conscience needs to know we left nothing undone to repair the damage we caused.
“Fill up that which our lives have left behind. Undo that which we have done amiss. Repair the places we have wasted, bind the hearts we have wounded. Dry the eyes which we have flooded. Make the evil we have done work for good, so that we ourselves would not know it” (Anonymous “Prayer for the Past”).