Religion column: Life’s highway

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

By Jonathan Filkins

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.” These are the opening verses of the famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost.

While the poem may be familiar to the ear, the complex nature of the composition resonates particularly acutely to all of those who have made life’s choices and then, upon reflection, wished they had taken the other path. It would be few of us who have not found this very place on life’s highway.

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We do not have to go far, in our recent history, to discover the ever quickening pace of life and its resultant challenges. There are those still amongst us who very well remember life without computers, smart phones, social media, or even moon landings. In our haste to reach for the new and revolutionary, we may have lost a portion of the necessity of our understanding of the requirement of pressing the “pause” button, in the cacophony of living.

We do, quite naturally, get lost on this highway of life. Often, it is because we let ourselves get in the way of making proper choices, what with the distractions all around us. In our haste, we too may not perceive of the differences in this direction, or that. but only with 20/20 rear-view vision do we understand what the proper direction should, or could, have been.

In our zeal for this earthly life, let us remember the guidance from Saint Matthew; for the next life. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Robert Frost’s poem was written upon reflection of a friend’s approach to living. This friend was frequently found in regretful refection of the life choices he had made, and only occasionally making a vague effort to find a solution. The fellow was running out of time and opportunity, as he was well-past middle age. Perhaps, as in the poem, this friend in pondering his diverging choices, ambivalently thought through. “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,” It today’s parlance, it is akin to the adolescent’s, “Whatever!” and so is the resultant potential regret. In today’s turbulent world, it is so easy for us to get caught up in the race of living. Yet, in this race, there is a call for pause. It is the time we are to set aside, with ourselves and with God, in quiet reflection. It may be as simple as a walk in the majesty of the woods, a quiet time alone without worldly distraction. It may be as simple to praying for inner calm and strength, through prayer and meditation upon life’s many gifts and not lamenting what has happened, but the potential of what may happen; with the proper directions along this highway of life. The poem ends,” Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Life’s choices, along each of our highways, are our own. We are called to often consider our personal “road-maps,” and confirm our own directions along this journey. Spending time in regret is, frequently, wasted effort which may be better spent on moving forward.. As Christians, while the path may be narrow, the gate is open wide.

It is only required that we stay on the path and follow His directions to enter in.