It’s probably America’s best known poem, if not its most beloved. Perhaps because it’s as simple as it is universal. There’s no doubt about the clarity of scene, which Robert Frost creates, though folks disagree whether the poet is at peace, or disturbed, by the decision made.
To be human is to choose. None of us can recall a time in life when we weren’t making choices. We can remember childhood, waiting for the day when all the decisions would be ours rather than those of the adults in our lives. Now, years later, we realize that the burden of being an adult is having to choose, always having to choose, knowing that, whatever road you take, another has been left behind. Indeed, one might say adulthood begins with the realization that choices matter.
Of course even adults can change their minds. We sign up for something new. We leave something else. But adults should also know that any choice of substance changes us forever. To use the image of the poet, we don’t just follow one road rather than another. We become the road. We become something entirely new because of the people we meet and the experiences we have. Someone unaffected by the people and events of life is childish. The one who isn’t changed by encounters with others is truly shallow. That’s why those who commit to each other become more suitable, more fruitful to the other, as they pass through time. Something shared grows within them, a common humanity, the effect of their walking the same road.
Christ comes to us as a person, not a creed. Nothing wrong with creeds. Those without them don’t know where they’re going or where they’ve been. But Christ is more than an assertion, a belief about the world. He is a person, one who wants to walk with us through life.
To think of him when we must choose, to come prayerfully before him with a decision in mind, is to travel through life with him. It isn’t that he makes the decision. That remains our blessing, our burden. But we make a different decision in his company. Walking with him has the same effect as walking with any other loved one. As times goes on, we become more and more like Christ, and he becomes more and more apparent in who we are. To walk with another is slowly, but surely, to share life itself. The road doesn’t simply take us somewhere. We become the road.
Jesus called himself the “Bread of Life.”
Some choices can be changed, but the ones that really matter will always leave their effects. They make us who we are. To walk away from them would be to lose our very selves.
Joshua 24: 1-2a, 15-17, 18b Ephesian 5: 21-32 John 6: 60-69