Rainbow Park is a beautiful place at anytime of the year: decked in the variegated greens of a returning spring; resplendent in the colours of the summer flower gardens; serene in the fading colours of fall; brilliant in the sunshine glinting of freshly fallen snow; it is my favorite place to walk.
One day last winter, on a walk in Rainbow Park, I ventured off the beaten path. Snow had fallen during the night; how much, I did not know. Upon entering the park it was clear from the footprints that others had gone down the trail before me. I followed these footprints until I came to a point where the trail diverged and in the words of Robert Frost, “I took the one less traveled by”.
At first the going was easy with snow just above the top of my boots. A little further on I was struggling through snow that was thigh deep! By this time turning back and retracing my steps was not really an option. I could see my destination (the road) some distance ahead. There was still a lot of snow to wade through. A clump of trees between me and the road offered some respite from the deep snow, but not much! I charted a course through the trees and finally ended up at the road, exhausted and sweating profusely from the workout.
In retrospect, it would have been easier to have stayed on the well-trodden path but from this experience I see several lessons that are relevant to our journey on the path of life. What do we do when the path diverges? Sometimes we choose to venture of the beaten path driven by sheer foolishness or rebellion. We ask ourselves, why should I do it like everyone else? Wisdom might dictate that you should do it like everyone else. Sometimes we venture off the beaten path simply because we want to do something different. Sometimes we choose the path less traveled in response to the call of a compelling vision or dream. Drawn by such a vision we need to remember that nothing of worth is ever accomplished without some level of sacrifice [wading through thigh deep snow]. Harold Schultz of Starbucks fame has this to say: “… You must have the courage to follow an unconventional path. You can’t value or measure your life experience in the moment, because you never know when you’re going to find the true path that enables you to find your voice”.
We have to learn to discern what we need to be doing when the path diverges. We need wisdom. Take time to listen. Listen to your heart. Listen to your mentors or close friends. For those of you who believe in God take time to listen to the still small voice of the Spirit.
Don’t go recklessly down the path less traveled but at the same time have the courage to embrace the vision if it calls.
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