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;
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,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
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.
Here we are, in the season of the “yellow wood,” and this famous poem has captured the hearts and minds of generations since it was penned in 1915 by Poet Laureate Robert Frost. In an Autumn wood, and from the sounds of it, at an “autumn” vantage point in the narrator’s life, the wisdom of his choice is mused and meditated upon for us to see. The reader is struck by the choice and can identify in his or her own life similar decisions, choices and turning points best illuminated in hindsight. The focus of the poem is a reflection of the process that led to taking the road less traveled and, I think, encourages us to reflect in the same way. You can see this fork in the road in your mind’s eye, can’t you? Not just of a distant memory, but of the decision that lies ahead.
At Camp Hanover, as you enter to drop off your camper or retrieve little Johnny a week later, a helpful counselor/guide stands where the gravel road divides, holding a giant plywood fork, probably 10-15 feet tall and spray-painted silver. I think the prop must be so that, when you call the office for instructions about bringing your camper to camp, they can say “Just go to the fork in the road and turn right….” It’s a pretty obvious sign!! Not all of our choices are this obvious, but I do believe the “fork” to be a good symbol for the choices God sometimes holds us to -- and through. We all have them; life is often the closing of one door to open another, the reluctant resolve that, try though we might, we cannot be in two places, or choose two parties or events, or be two people, at once. And we understand that “sigh,” as well, because life gets along and we often do not, in fact, go back.
Spiritually understood, for people of faith, the “fork” is where we stand now and will forever stand, as this is the place of discernment and prayer, of spirit and flesh. Here, now, is the moment when I decide to follow God’s call and brave the shoddy road, the unkept path to who-knows-where; or the town road, pristine and well-maintained by planned effort. It will always be this way for us and we will always be here, because God is always showing us the alternative, the better, less-traveled road of godly intention. Yes, it appears unkept and pricks our fears of getting lost or wasting time on a dead-end, but just around that corner we will find a garden path of unimaginable possibility and beauty.
On Sunday, November 22, we will hold a short Parish Meeting after the 10:30 service to elect three new Vestry members for 2021. God is calling you to serve our family and our parish in ways that glorify Him and bless you further into being His -- which path will you choose?
Father Bill Burk†