Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, 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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
How often have you faced a similar dilemma in your life?
Whatever choice you make will have consequences and will change your life and perhaps the life of others as well. Choosing between what our conscience tells us is right or wrong is easy but choosing which path to follow when either path is equally good is incredibly difficult. One can often be overwhelmed by indecision by the fear of making a poor choice.
When the choice is between two sides of the same right the choice is almost impossible. Sometimes you will need to ask for an objective view by a detached observer to help you in your choice. Solomon obviously realised this:
“O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in..... Give your servant, therefore, an
understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil..”
and sensibly knew to ask God to grant him wisdom in his decision making. Wisdom is perhaps the greatest gift from God, far more valuable than riches or power:
“It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right.... In deed I give you a wise and discerning mind..”
I have never wanted to belong to a church that dictates to me what to believe, what to say, how to vote or whatever. This desire for independence is the thing that has kept me as an Episcopalian and any suggestion of being dictated to fills me with abject horror.
I respect the views of those whose interpretation of scripture and the traditions of the church are different to mine. Their faith may tell them that X is X and I believe they have the right to hold those views. I may not agree with them because for me X could perhaps be interpreted as Y or Z depending on the circumstance, context and theological understanding. It is the interpretation of Scripture that leads to debate and sometimes sadly conflict but it can also lead to wonderful conversations and God given insights.
Scripture, for me, contains the essence of God written in human language codes which are in themselves inadequate vehicles to explain God and God’s ways and thus therefore need to be interpreted through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. For others Scripture should not nor cannot be interpreted. To say this or even to adopt this stance is in fact a choice not to interpret Scripture.
It is this dilemma of ‘interpretation’ that takes me back to the beginning of this homily and Solomon’s request of God to grant him:
“ an understanding mind, able to discern between good and evil.”
All of us need to pray for discretion and discernment and that these gifts will be poured by God upon all of us today. We all need to be able to think clearly and logically in these days as we come out of lockdown. We all need to be blessed by the Spirit with wisdom as to how we can move forward and to re-build our society in ways that will ensure each individual's dignity and worth.
Pray to God for discernment of his will for us in these coming days, months and years that we will always be able to tread the right path.