Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beautiful, Simple, Cheap

I'm struck by the ability of rural life to create beauty from very humble means.  I'll have to illustrate with an illustration.

We have a baby swing, which we've had now in 3 different homes, that I don't like.  I keep it because the kids love it, and it is something I can strap kids to, which any parent of multiple toddlers knows is a Godsend.  But I don't like it, because I know it was made in another country as cheaply as possible at any cost; its made of junk and it has obnoxious colors.  I don't like it.  It has an uncanny ability to make a yard look junky, in my opinion, and I think that is because of what it is: imported cheapness.  I'll keep it because I bought it and it works, but when it can be replaced it will be. 

Compare that to the swing we found at a farm down the road from us.  Let me describe it:

Its a rope and a board.

It was clearly made from what was available, which was solid, quality, earthen, strong materials: a rope and a board.  You have contact with real things like wood and fiber  (so you can meditate better on the binding and crucifixion of the Lord).  But looking at it hanging from a giant oak it looks like something on a greeting card.  (Have you noticed that greeting cards in the middle of Target are filled with dreamy pictures of things you never actually see in places that surround Target?)  Its simple, cheap and beautiful.  Of course its a different cheapness, more in the realm of "thrift," which is a virtue.  I'm too dense to really perceive the difference, but there's something there right?  Both of them of made from junk, but its different...

Its also more dangerous.  One slip and a 2 year old is lying on his back in tears.  And unlike the swing which these kids want me to hang back up (its a plascitc heap in the shed right now), this thing builds muscle!  Did I mention its dangerous?

O Lord, thou hast introducethed my children to danger, for which I thank thee.  O blessed danger, from which safety shields, reveal your splendor and necessity to our weak and comfortable bodies.

I love this swing.  Literally, a company could not reproduce what this swing is.  Impossible.  They're missing something so human and natural when they ask a factory in China to make it.  Pottery Barn might get close, but then it would be too expensive.

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