Which road to take

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

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

The poem by Robert Frost is about deciding which road to take. The traveler weighs his options and tries to predict what the outcome might be. Unfortunately, we cannot predict the future. We look down one path as far as we can “to where it bends in the undergrowth” or as far as we can predict; however, there will always be “bumps in the road” preventing us from seeing too far into the future.

Frost says he chose the path least traveled by, but realistically, the path we are all on is this very road he speaks of. No one has walked in my footsteps, and I have not walked in another person’s footsteps. We forge our own path.

The poem does leave a lingering sense of melancholy mystery in my mind, and I think both the “sigh” and title express this. What did the other path really hold? This we’ll never know, though we`ll often wonder about it. We are but travelers, and all we have is the path.

Sometimes we make humorous choices. There was an art contest held in a local school one Christmas season a few years ago in East Texas. One of the prize winners was a picture drawn by a nine-year-old boy showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger. What made the picture unique is how the three gift presenters arrived – there was fire truck on the side of the picture. The principal asked the boy about his decision to draw the truck, and the boy, in his heavy East-Texas accent, was quick to reply, “Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far.”

Other times our choices are cast in the crucible of resignation and depression. Art Buchwald, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, author and satirist, the “Wit of Washington,” as he was called, died on Jan. 17, 2007. He became famous for not only skewering just about everyone in Washington for more than four decades, but also for refusing dialysis treatments for failing kidneys.

Medical science predicted he would die in a couple of weeks, but he lived a year; returning home, resuming his twice weekly column, writing a book about his experience entitled Too Soon to Say Goodbye, and then holding book parties in Washington D. C. and New York City. He said the decision to forgo dialysis was liberating.

“When you make your choice, then a lot of stress is gone. Everything is great because you accept that you are the one who made the choice,” he stated.

When death didn’t come, he said he had to scrap his funeral plans, rewrite his living will and buy a new cell phone. He writes in his book, “Dying isn’t hard, but getting paid by Medicare is.”

He envisioned a memorial service with a rabbi, a priest, and Billy Graham, saying, “One of them is bound to have some idea where I am going.” He said his last wish was to have his ashes sprinkled over every Trump building in New York City.

Our Lord Jesus knows that we desire more. In a recent gospel (John 1:38) at daily Mass he asks his disciples, “What are you looking for?” May we choose the road that Jesus walks, for we’ve made the right choice.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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