(Picture stolen from t'internet)
I've been something of a rat-bag of late (no, don't be nice if you know me, and say otherwise, I have) which has given me cause to pause and think, which is no bad thing. That so much of how I feel is related, implicitly or explicitly to choices I or others have made is hardly rocket science - all emotions are linked to experience, and all experience arises from choices.
Choosing to be obedient to what I understand to be the call of God on my life has in turn led to many significant, binary (I think most choices probably are binary in the end) choices, and those choices have consequences.
On Tuesday I was at a training day where we spoke about call and its testing or affirmation. One wise person rightly, in my view, noted that the robustness or resilence of a call to ordained ministry needs to be examined to ensure that it will survive the day when, for two pins, you'd walk away. At age thirteen since ordination, and nineteen since call, I wholeheartedly agree... there have been, and always will be, days on which I have to consciously remind myself of that call; days when, as I noted just three days ago, the importance and signficance of those ordination vows is very acute.
For the most part, I love what I do. I get tired and ratty because I love it too much, and try too hard, and get frustrated because I can't do and be everything I'd like to do and be. So it's good to pause for a bit, name all of that and remind myself that in December 1997 I made a choice to step along a 'road less travelled' and that has made all the difference.
The poem "The Road not Taken" by Robert Frost is one I first heard when I was 8 or 9 yeras old - I can still see myself sitting alone in the very back desk of a Victorian classroom with fold down benches attached to the desks (it had never been modernised!) and listening with rapt attention as our teacher read it to us. At various times I have, and still do, wonder how life might have turned out had I made different choices, taken other roads... but of course return is never possible, life is always moving forward.
Somewhere in all of that is something Advent-ish. About people who said 'yes' or 'no' when faced with startling life-choices. About what might have been and what what was. About real emotions and questions and doubts and hope and fears. About doing what you trust to be right, even when it's costly or lonely or scary or frustrating or disappointing. About a journey along a road less travelled...
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.