Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Discernment: Taking a New Road

I wrote this for my church newsletter after discerning that I was not called to religious life (as in joining a religious order) at that time.  It was a difficult decision, especially after having made a case to the order to accept me as a postulant.  I realize, though, that the purpose of postulancy would have been served, no matter which road I took.

Taking a New Road

Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” is a favorite of mine.  In it, Frost speaks of encountering “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”  We’ve all had the experience of finding “two roads.”  As Frost says so eloquently, sometimes the choice is not between “good” and “bad,” but between two “goods.”  And, unlike some Harry Potter character, we cannot be in two places at once:

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

I have had the experience of encountering my own “roads diverged in a yellow wood.”  These “roads” represented my unique sense of call.  In the poem, Frost realized the direction he chose would lead him to still other roads, yet unknown, as expressed in the line, “Yet knowing how way leads to way...”

There are times when the roads I’ve taken led to unexpected places.  In my experience, I found that volunteering with youth groups while in the Air Force led to my present career in teaching.  My journey from being a Roman Catholic to the Unitarian Universalist Church, to other forms of worship, led me to becoming a member of an Episcopal parish.  Attending the Lenten Quiet Day at my last parish led to my application to become a member of the Companions of St. Luke – Benedictine.  As I underwent the formation process for religious life, I found that being an active layperson was my call.  It was at this time that I decided to transfer to Holy Spirit. (Note: I have since transferred to another Episcopal parish since then.)

Choosing a road forever changes a person.  Frost recognized this when he said, “I doubted if I shall ever come back.”  As a postulant in the Companions of St. Luke – Benedictine, I chose a road less traveled by and, through the process of study, self-examination, and prayer, found myself forever changed.  Although I later decided to take another road, the journey had changed me.

As a community, we are facing two (or more) roads.  Whatever direction we choose will change us forever.  Together we must discern, with God’s help, the path that will enable us to lead others to know, love, and serve Christ.  But we must choose, and choosing may require letting go of some things we value in order to fulfill a greater good. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

May God guide each of us as we encounter the “roads.”

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