I’m in the middle of repairing a 90 year old clock! Who doesn’t like the comforting pulse of the gentle tick or the consoling chimes marking each hour from a distant mantel top? Well, so it seemed when I bought a handsome though broken Seth Thomas at a favorite antique store a few years back. Thankfully, we have a friend who just happens to be a member of the extremely dedicated and increasingly small Twin Cities Clock Makers Guild. Ivy generously offered her wisdom, guidance and well equipped “shop” for the task.
Last week we tore apart the innards and cleaned a gazillion little pieces in a bath of ammonia and then alcohol. We had to gently, ever so carefully, release the tension on the over-wound spring that keeps time. The spring that powers those comforting chimes had proverbially sprung, bending sprockets and brackets in its wake! Today we begin putting the pieces back together. Easier said than done! But this is an absolutely fascinating process and I am guided by a patient, forgiving master teacher. Whoever came up with this technology back in the 15th century, each piece hand-crafted and painstakingly calibrated, were geniuses of the first rate.
Today is also the seventh anniversary of my sister, Della’s death. It seems appropriate to spend time this afternoon tinkering with an old clock and carefully reconstructing its inner workings. Do we pay enough attention to the time we have? Can we gently release parts in our day that are wound too tight? How do we repair that which has sprung and damaged the way we operate? Do we sufficiently treasure each methodical tick in our day? Are we consoled by the marking of time and gladdened even more by chimes ringing forth the later hours?
Today I miss my sister with her quirky humor and sometimes maddening idiosyncrasies. I loved her. Della loved me even when I acted unlovable. Yes, it is a gift to disassemble the inner workings of our lives and restore the reassuring sounds of time. She is a master teacher and – when attentive – we recognize the wisdom of the ages, discovering both memory and promise.