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;
Robert Frost’s famous poem was instrumental in the shaping of my early adulthood. It seemed to me a mystical thing to stand at a crossroad and look down each fork as far as one could see, deciding which of the two to choose. This image is the one I looked to in carving out my own religious calling.
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,
I could have chosen a great number of things, and as I whittled through my choices, I found a wanting to follow the Lord. The first steps down that path seemed well worn by the many who had gone before me. Yet it seemed more edgy and rough compared to the path of my friends; an uncertainty hung there that frightened me and yet compelled me to look at it more closely.
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I marked the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back.
The evening I entered the Canossian Sisters, I recall how new everything seemed. A new page was indeed beginning as I learned how to live in a community of women of different cultures (my first community comprised of one Filipino, one Chinese, One Mexican-American, three Mexicans and myself of deep California-American roots). Just as Frost hints at the starting down that un-trodden path, my stepping the threshold of the Postulant house left me changed.
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.
There is one mistake I made in my own estimation of this first step. I thought the hardest part of my journey was the decision to enter. What I have learned – what should have been obvious – is the first turn off the beaten path was only the first of many choices; the journey only begins with that first step where the undergrowth is thickest.
God woos each of us, His beloved, slowly and gently pulling us by the hand at our own pace to wade ever deeper into His love. My journey to follow Christ more deeply into the abyss of His love has so far to go. Thankfully, God is patient to present the invitation to each of us to enter the Portal of His love in our life of prayer, Sacramental life, and community.
As we watch Pope Benedict in the final hours of his Pontificate, he is preparing for the plunge into God’s love. He has heard the Lord call Him even more into quiet, to become less so that God can be more; to a place where God can become everything. This is difficult for even religious to understand, and we must understand this from the perspective of our cloistered brothers and sisters who live their lives as a hidden sacrifice of praise to God and prayer for the world. Mother Maria Angelica explains:
“When he lives this monastic lifestyle, his prayers will reach those who maybe were unbelievers during his papacy,” said Mother Maria Angelica, of the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria del Rosario. “I’m absolutely sure of this, of the value of his prayer and of his silence. And it will reach the whole world, even where it wasn’t previously able to reach. . . . [Even unbelievers] will feel the effects of [a cloistered person’s] prayer.”
It is a very generous act.
One where Pope Benedict’s impact on the world is just beginning.
And that will make all the difference.
Please read The Anchoress’ take on Pope Benedict’s call to that which is essential in the life of the Baptized.