“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
As that great philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.” Ah, Yogi-isms, don’t we love them? But this one hardly solves the dilemma we’re presented when we come to one of those inevitable forks in the road.
When my beloved friend and office mate, Jim Webb, was informed that he only had at most a year to live he found himself at a crossroad. Faced with such a time limitation he had to choose carefully what path to take. But for him the decision was an easy one. He simply looked at his family, me included, and with that big Jim Webb smile announced, “You know, a person can do a lot of good in a year.” And off he went to pack in all the good he could with the time he had left.
Just before graduating from high school each of my two sons had to endure a dinner outing with their dad for a little father-son chat. During the course of the evening I asked this one question. “What do you want to be?” Each responded predictably that he wanted to be a lawyer or an architect or something-or-other I don’t recall. But it was a trick question, you see, so I asked it again. “No, I already know that,” I said, “I’m asking you what you want to BE!” Each one in his respective moment first looked at me as if I had three heads, then they got it. Both, in so many words, gave me the same answer. “I want to be a good person,” they each replied. Ah-ha! That’s exactly the answer their old dad was hoping for. You see, what I was trying to do was lead them up to that crossroad, and challenge them to look and consider carefully which path they would choose to take.
I wanted my sons to stand at that same crossroad where Jim Webb had stood and consider carefully which path they would take. The only difference between Jim and my sons, as well as the rest of us I suppose, was that Jim’s time limit had been pre-determined; theirs and ours have not. In his remaining months Jim did indeed do a lot of good and created a legacy through which his goodness lives on. He chose the ancient path, where the good way is, and he walked in it, and by doing so he left this life as a man whose soul was at peace. We have that same opportunity, if only we “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it . . .”