Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Today’s readings

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 feet 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

This poem, of course, is “The Road Less Traveled,” by Robert Frost, and it was always one of my favorites. Today’s readings speak, more or less, to the same sentiment, but with a more radical and crucial twist. Frost’s opinion is that both roads are equally valid, he just chooses to take the one most people don’t. But the Gospel tells us that there really is only the one valid path, and that certainly is the road less traveled. We commonly call it the Way of the Cross.

Moses makes it clear, he sets before the people life and death, and then begs them to choose life. Choosing life, for the Christian, means going down that less traveled Way of the Cross, a road that is hard and filled with pitfalls. And maybe the real problem is that there is a choice. Wouldn’t it be great if we only had the one way set before us and no matter how hard it would be, that was all we could choose? But God has given us freedom and wants us to follow that Way of the Cross in freedom, because that’s the only way that leads to him.

Our Psalmist says it well today:

Blessed the one who follows not

the counsel of the wicked

Nor walks in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the company of the insolent,

But delights in the law of the LORD

and meditates on his law day and night.

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