Building with Old Lumber

This is a true story, but it is also an analogy.

Many many years ago, my mom and dad built the house where I lived for eight years of my childhood. My grandpa was a carpenter and my dad and all his brothers knew how to build, so this was a do-it-yourself project.

Some of the wood and other materials came from an old house in town that was being torn down; my folks built their new house in part from the pieces of that old house. The boards. The nails. My mom still talks about the time she spent straightening out old nails, pulled from the old boards, to be reused.

The new house was made with many old parts, but it was nonetheless a new house. Not all of the re-used pieces were used exactly where and how they had been in the old house. Not all of the old parts could be re-used at all, and these were discarded. (My brother and I used some of them to build a treehouse in the woods one summer, although that’s beside the point of the analogy. :)) There weren’t enough of some boards and new ones were purchased and used where required. And of course additional nails were needed. Entirely different components were added as well (drywall instead of plaster in the walls, for example). In the end, the new house was different from the old house. 

And while the new house was a new house, it was nonetheless a house, lived in and used in many of the same ways the old house had been by others, long ago.

And that is, in some ways, is how I build my religious practice.

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