Major forks in the road
In any endeavor, discipline is central to whatever it is will be successful or not. In school, in the military, or perhaps the most difficult, to live with others on a long term basis and develop deep and loving relationships. There are always forks in the road; go left or right, which one to choose? Often the traveler on the road is presented with choices that are difficult to make. Either choice will be an embarkation on a new beginning towards something good and life affirming. Yet there will always be forks further up, no matter what way chosen.
At other times, the choices can be opposed to one another. One choice, the right one is the most difficult path, at least at the beginning. The other can appear easy and effortless but the effects of such a choice may not show until way down that path.
In any case, one choice means allowing a sort of death to occur, for the road not taken is an ending of that life not chosen. Few people make all the right choices, for the easier path can sidetrack the traveler off course for a time; sometimes for good.
We can’t have it all. A married man or woman can’t have a successful marriage when they commit adultery, or balk at the inner strength that is needed to raise a family. Or to simply stay true to their spouse for life and to end up happily till death.
If there are failures, all hope need not be lost, for new beginnings more often than not are present. It does take a good dose of humility to begin again and more than once if necessary. Showing mercy and forgiveness can be a major fork in the road for any endeavor; either to receive forgiveness, to give, or hardest of all to forgive oneself.
In a relationship with God, the same holds true. If I am called by God to live out the image I am made in, to love others, myself and to love God with my whole being; well it is easy to see that there will be many forks in the road and in my case failures. Some of my failings flow from my own inner fragmentation and alienation which can be profound at times, as it is I am sure for many. Then there are times when my ‘sins’ are not failings at all but a true choice, more often than not the easier choice but not always. For sin in the end is irrational, working against what is good and wholesome and healing for the soul.
After all these years, I am still O Lord only at the beginning.
Yet I continue. Over the years, I have learned to be stubborn, to look at my own childish, self-important, narcissistic despair in the face and say: “I don’t believe you”. I can do this because I believe in something I don’t understand and also incapable of giving myself. I believe in infinite and unconditional love, something that our ability to love points to, but is incapable of achieving. Parental love is closest to this kind of love I believe, but for all of it beauty and profundity it is still finite. I am comfortable with human love. Infinite love is another story entirely and all my life I have danced around it to my determent.
I stay on the road of my faith, this path that is strewn with my failures and always begin again. The longer my journey takes the weaker and worse I seem to get. I have come to understand that my heart is often hard, cold and empty, yet I long for love and a deeper truer humanity. This longing I believe is the call of grace. Many think that our being human is either a dead end, for we die and that is it, while others believe that our humanity is something to outgrow and put aside. I believe otherwise.
We are called to become fully human, loving, Christ like beings. We are the union of the physical and spiritual, a union so profound that it will last for eternity. Christ Jesus for Christians was fully human, loving, healing and yes forgiving. He could be this way because his love was not based on need; it flowed from his essential nature as God. I can’t do that because I am still filed with fear, anger and yes at time doubt. It is grace that pursues me, will not leave me alone and no true peace will come until I totally surrender.
Infinite love is not sentimental, it is fierce, like the love of all mothers that have ever existed or the love of fathers defending their children. God love is a fire that will not stop healing us in the forge until we give our ‘yes’ and then, I believe the journey will just begin. We are in fact children, no matter how mature, intelligent we are, there is always more, deeper in, and higher up.