“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Jeremiah 6:16
While hiking up a heavily wooded mountainside in northern Yellowstone Park several summers ago, Tee and I were about to double back on the same trail when we noticed a steep, narrow path veering off in another direction. Feeling adventurous we decided to see where it would lead. As we climbed higher and the woods became denser apprehension set in, again tempting us to turn back. Exhausted we were starting to question the wisdom of our decision when suddenly there was a clearing up ahead. Within a few steps we emerged onto the most glorious mountain meadow one could ever imagine, with breath-taking views in all directions – as picturesque as Julie Andrew’s opening scene in The Sound of Music.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” wrote Robert Frost in that familiar poem. But not all “less traveled” paths lead to such beautiful sights. In fact, many do not. Some get us lost; others are dead ends, while many turn out to be long disappointing detours. One thing is for certain, though; if we keep driving the same busy freeways and never venture to exit onto unfamiliar roads from time to time our lives will remain mundane and routine. Only when we try things new and different will we ever discover things new and different.
Try getting up at 3 a.m. – on purpose! – just to experience what the world is like in that wee hour. Drive a different route to work. Turn on a street that you’ve always wondered where it goes. Try a new recipe for dinner. For your next vacation plan a trip someplace you’ve never been. Do something you’ve never done but always wanted to try. You may be surprised what you discover – about yourself and the world around you.
“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it . . .” And don’t be surprised if it is the road less traveled by. It happened to us on that summer day in Yellowstone . . . and it made all the difference.