Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not travel both
and be one traveler...
This is a simple poem that I memorized in school so many years ago. It came to mind as I was praying this morning. How many times in my life have two roads diverged, and "I looked down one as far as I could... then took the other, because it was grassy and wanted wear."
The particular choice of roads that came to mind this morning was one that I made in the waning months of my college days. I was a pre-med student, and I had been accepted at several medical schools. In just a few months I would be graduating, and then in the fall, off to medical school.
At that time, as I recall it now, my one dream was being fulfilled. It had taken all my time, energy and attention to study, get good grades and get into medical school. Now that I was "in" I could relax somewhat, and begin to think of medical school, and a career beyond.
It was when my thoughts began to wander to that career beyond medical school that the thought of religious life first entered into my thinking. At first it was just a vague possibility: maybe, some day. But it soon became a stronger sense of invitation and call. What if this is something real? What does a vocation really feel like? What does it mean? Could it be?
I don't remember the time line, but looking back, it must have been rather fast. From those first musings, a deep sense of call took root, and I began exploring religious communities. Haltingly at first, I did not know how to start the conversation. I didn't even know how to start the prayer.
In time, I was visiting religious communities, and by degrees, this 'call' took over my life. I began to question the goal of medical school that had been my pre-occupation since sometime in high school. While communities assured me that I could certainly go to medical school, then enter, I had a sense of the timeline. This call to religious life was something that I needed to pursue now.
I entered religious life that fall and the rest, as they say, is history.
The road not taken? Medical school? The question of going to medical school came up over the years, but in the end I never went. I have used my pre-med, scientific background in many ways over the years. The med school class that I would have been a part of, graduated the spring when I made first profession.
But I, I took the road less traveled by,I sometimes wonder what that other path would have been like? Would I have entered religious life? What would ministry as a physician been like?
and that has made all the difference.
But I know that my life as it has played out has been a gift and a grace, to me, and hopefully to those among whom I have prayed, lived and worked. I have prayed deeply, and had opportunities and helps in developing a rich spiritual life. I have met interesting people and have many wonderful relationships. I have lived in many different places and had opportunities to travel. I ended up studying law and theology, and I serve the legal needs of religious communities, a ministry which I love.
On this Valentines Day weekend, I say:
To all that religious life has been: Amen, Amen, Amen!
To all that religious life will yet be: Yes, Yes, Yes!