Monday, November 15, 2010

Prayer #140: Two Roads Diverged ...

Today's prayer first demands a re-read of Robert Frost's 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.


Now, check out that last stanza again. I never read the poem closely enough to realize this before, but he's talking about the future. The narrator has no idea what his immediate decision in the woods will result in. He knows only that he must choose, because he can't stand out there waiting to sprout roots and be removed of all responsibility.

I know the feeling. My chosen road took me away farther from my family and relatives. It led to a school up north, a city down south, a career in a different field, a boyfriend in a distant state. It has circled back to find me writing. Each way does indeed lead on to way.

No wonder Frost chose 'sigh' to punctuate his final thought. This tidy choice conveys satisfaction and melancholy in one syllable. Because choice leads to gain as well as loss, and it means sacrifice as much as it means opportunity.

I know this feeling too. Right now, I'm thinking about my cousin (my age) who just announced she is pregnant with her first child. About how I might not be able to travel north for all the family holiday parties. Also about my high school friend applying for PhD programs. And about one day opening a box packed with copies of my first published book.

Two roads diverge in a yellow wood. I'm taking the ones that make me sigh.

Prayer #140: Two Roads Diverged ...

Two roads diverge each day I live,
And all those days, my steps I choose.

I try considering options all --
What's right for me? What's best by You? --

But thoughts converge with blinding speed:
Should I have stayed? Should I have veered?

That's when I hear Your whispered shout:
I never ask you live in fear.

Doubt, confusion -- each will come.
But never fear when you're with me.


Lord, I wish I could travel both,
If just to know what might (or will not) be.

Still, two roads diverge each day I live, and I --

I'll lead the life You chose to give.

Amen.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Julia - that was a lovely post, and I enjoyed the sentiment of your frost-inspired poem. Knowing He is there on the road removes much of my fear of what will come and what might have been.

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  2. Julia, this is an awesome analysis of an over-quoted poem and a spectacular prayer as a refrain to Frost's original work. As you know, I feel that New England has lost its spiritual roots and I wonder if Frost had a Christian bent. Nevertheless, what matters most is that you have a faith in a higher power, a trust in something greater than yourself, knowledge that you have a purpose. I have lived a comparable life to yours in terms of attending a national school and never returning home since leaving for active duty. I cannot say that I made the right choice...only that I made a choice, and I did my best to execute in the positions I was put. Keep the faith my friend.

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