I must share this incident with you. Last week, we replaced an old, wooden deck with a new one. It took a long time to ask three or four contractors to give us estimates (my wife is the brains, I am just old). Last Thursday and Friday they came and tore down the old one and put up a new wooden structure.

Don’t ask me why, but this event was part of my Friday Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). It came to me that Christ came to be one of us and knew exactly what we needed to survive Original Sin, that caustic human condition that leads to death.

Here is my point. I thought of how all of us must update everything, making new from old, just like tearing out an old deck and replacing it with a new one. I can remember how the old boards were rotten and looked terrible. The rain and sun had taken their effect. I thought of how nothing in this world lasts, nothing. Original Sin is the default activity for humans, The effects of Original Sin are still with us, the human condition, even though Christ came to open up the possibility for us to live beyond our nature. Christ became one of us to give us ways to combat the effects of Original Sin (death, sin, temptation to be God, breaking the Ten Commandments, and not loving others as Christ loves us). Faith as Baptism and the Spirit from God are gifts that make us adopted sons and daughters of the Father. But there is a problem. Once we have Faith, we must live it out with free will using the gifts that God have given us to survive until we pass over to the next reality, Heaven.

I thought of the deck as wearing out with use, growing old and dying, our not taking care of it, and of the time I fell through the rotting decking (not injured). This is like Original Sin with us. To survive, Christ told us to love others as He Himself loves us. He gave us seven gifts to give us grace (the energy of God) to sustain our Faith. Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. The community of Faith uses these gifts to sustain us as we journey to Forever.

On this occasion, I thought of how Christ saved us from the effects of that Original Sin of Adam and Eve but left us with a way to make all things new. This changes the paradigm from one of decay and deterioration to one of accepting that we live in the World of the effects of Original Sin but have God’s grace to help us make all things new again.

Being a Lay Cistercian means, more and more as I seek more and more humility, that I try to use the Cistercian practices and charisms to move forward from self to God. It takes work. I am not always completely successful. I still live in the state of Original Sin but I know how to recharge the batteries, to make a new deck to replace the old one. Christ is the carpenter who builds decks. He makes all things new over and over. Not that I will ever reach perfection in this lifetime, but I strive to love as Christ has loved us, over and over.

Each new day is a lifetime of trying to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:5). I have my doubts and anxieties over that last hurdle (death) and what it is like. I also have the way, the truth, and the life to sit next to me on a park bench in the dead of Winter and tell me, “Don’t be afraid.”


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