Comforting, in changed and charged times, is the presence of an old familiar object. Silent, solid, safe and secure, our wooden rocking chair – where I’m sitting to write this – was once a kit of some thirty parts that had to be put together. That was about fifteen years before the first IKEA shop opened in the UK, so it was quite a novelty for my husband and I to have to work out which bit went where and to make it secure to sit on. The rocking chair was the first piece of furniture we bought.
Our rocking chair is about forty eight years old. It’s been a place to swing to and fro while reading, a chair in which to sit and rock babies to sleep, a convalescent chair for little people with chickenpox and, more recently, an indoor swing for grandchildren. It’s lived variously in the lounge, dining room and bedroom of five different homes. Its value is in memories and its inanimate ability to remain unchanged while all else changes around it.
From starting life as a tree, undergoing transformation in a factory, then construction in the home, and used by people of all ages, it has remained the same for half a century. There’s something reassuring about that ever-present witness to all the comings and goings, doings and be-ings of human life. But it’s just a chair. It can’t live or laugh or love. It can’t hug or speak or smile. For all its qualities and uses, it can never tell the tale of its life – unlike each of us who is a living work of construction and creativity, made by God, to live, learn, laugh and love while life shall last.