$12 Well-Spent

Amend, verb (used with object)

1.   to alter, modify, rephrase, or add to or subtract from (a motion, bill,constitution, etc.) by formal procedure:

      Sample: Congress may amend the proposed tax bill.

2.      to change for the better; improve:

Sample: to amend one's ways.

     About 15 or so years ago, I was visiting Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York with a friend who, like me, is a Presbyterian minister. One afternoon, we decided to leave the monastery to take a hike. My friend suggested the Mohonk Mountain House. He described it as an impressive lodge set next to gorgeous lake. Trails threaded all around the woods surrounding the Mountain House. It sounded good to me, so we made the half-hour drive.

            We pulled into the parking and noticed a sign that read:

Guests who are interested in visiting on a day trip from NYC may purchase a hiking pass at the Gatehouse and park in the adjacent lot.

            Since it was my first visit, I looked to my friend and asked, “Do we really need a hiking pass?” Now, I have to admit that the sign couldn’t have been much clearer. No deep thought or reflection was required to understand its message: You need to purchase a hiking pass. I asked because I didn’t feel like paying. My friend, who is the other Presbyterian minister in this story, said, “Nah, we don’t need pass. Let’s go.” We strode off and did what we wanted to do. About an hour later, we encountered a guard. She stopped us and said, “Can I see your pass?” I asked innocently and with a smile, “Passes? Do we need a pass? I thought we could just walk on the paths.” Did we see the signs (for there were many more than one), the guard asked us. We mumbled something before she firmly but politely told us that we either had to buy a pass or leave. We left.

            I once heard a definition of sin that has always stuck with me. Sin is the Big I. Let me spell for you so you get what I mean.



s In

            When I sin, and I was certainly out of bounds that day many years ago, the Big I is running the show. The Big I has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. But I have learned how to deal with the Big I. I need the regular—weekly at least, daily at best—practice of admitting my wrongs to God, others, and myself. This is just the beginning of declawing the Big I. When I have committed a wrong, almost always, I have to make it right. That’s what an amends is. Glance at both definitions at the top of the page. Amend is a change word, therefore it is a good news or gospel word. I can change; and with God’s help I will change. I can also change for the better.

            Two weeks ago, I was again at Holy Cross Monastery. I had a free afternoon and was looking for a hike. A friend who lives in the area recommended another great hike at the Mohonk Preserve. She told me that I would have to pay $12 for a day-pass. No problem, I said. I gladly, happily paid. I did it right this time. I hiked freely and without the baggage that the Big I always dumps on my shoulders. Here’s a picture from the top of the Bonticou Crag Hike. It was fun to scramble up to the top and the amazing view that awaited me. No sight of the Big I here.