Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Great Poem for Those in Discernment

Recently I happened across some birch trees in a Minneapolis nature preserve and the yellow leaves brought to mind the below poem by Robert Frost entitled, "The Road Not Taken." I think it is a great poem that is especially applicable to persons who are discerning a vocation to religious life. It speaks to the tension of having multiple options in life and making the choice between one or the other. The temptation, as evidenced in the opening lines of the poem, is to remain at "the crossroad of possibility" and to simply contemplate the pros and cons of taking each path. As a vocation director, I find it amazing the number of inquirers who report that they have felt called for 10 or more years and have never followed through. On more than one occasion I've found myself wondering if these persons are "stuck" at "the crossroad of possibility." Our culture certainly encourages this. Sayings such as "keep all your options open" and "don't put all your eggs in one basket" speak to the pseudo-virtue of being non-commital and "waiting for a better deal" to come along. The fact of the matter is that a meaningful, rich, and purposive life isn't about "deal-making" so much as "decision-making". It seems to me that the Living God is not one who brokers deals with us but extends an irrevocable, non-negotiable opportunity, call, and challenge to accept his nearness and the values of the Kingdom. Some paths lead us down this "road" and others either skirt around it or move in the opposite direction. Like the road that Frost opts for, the road to deeper life with God and a deeper commitment and decision for God's Reign is certainly the one less traveled. However, deciding for it makes all the difference. Pat, TOR

The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.