There were two roads and they diverged in a yellow wood and who among us would not want to take them both? But life is full of decisions that say, no, you must choose one or the other and your very future will depend on the choice.
Not just to choose if we go with chocolate or vanilla, not just if we wear the blue or the yellow shirt, but where do we choose to live, or what vocation do we choose to soak our life and investment into, or who do we choose to grow old with?
Soon we, the Froese 5, will be back in our Canadian home for a few months where above the sliding door going to our back deck there is a little square plaque that is a reminder of all this, a reminder of the well-known Robert Frost poem. The plaque reads “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.”
But we don’t even have to get back to our Canadian home to look up to that verse to think about it all, because sandwiched between their Ugandan and Canadian school experience, the children are now getting a few days of homeschooling here at our dining table in Africa. This is where Liz has just been awarded by her teacher, an American pinch-hitter who is doing a marvelous job, a mint chocolate bar for memorizing the entirety of this poem.
It’s a verse that is as true as any verse can be, and any mom and dad would be happy to know that any one of their children, as they mature and get more freedom, have it memorized, and then also have the courage, like few of us do (at least without divine help) to live it out.
The hardest part, of course, is that there are no guarantees in any of it, that even when we make decisions based on whatever faith and confidence we can muster at that moment at that crossroads, there is no assurance that the road less traveled will lead to any place that one hopes it might. It may lead to things that are very ordinary, at least by the world’s standards, or even painful, which is why few have intentionally opted for it.
But it’s so life-altering, maybe, for that exact reason: that without the pain or the waiting or the very ordinariness, there would be no surprise or fulfillment or joy later at the destination. If a parent can somehow teach their child this, just as much as we make sure they learn math or spelling or science, then any of us would have done rather well.
Sometimes children even teach their parents.
Here are Robert Frost’s complete words of “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 marked 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.”