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Sheltered Reflections #5

By Maureen Kalbus

Sheltering at home, there now are a few times when we may venture out, deciding in which direction to go, and the road to take. It’s a well- trodden path to the local shops. For daily walks, I often drive to a nearby location, and walk on different paths, just to give me variation, and fresh gardens to enjoy!

Have you ever wondered about the road you have taken through life? Did you choose it? Had others an influence on the direction you took? Were you guided?

In “The Road Not taken”, Robert Frost is confronted by a dilemma:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden back.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads onto way,

I doubted I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Having been born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and part of a closely knit family, no one could have foreseen that my path would take me around the world, and I eventually would live in Australia, and then California. At times the roads I took turned out to be perilous [like the time I chose to ride an elephant through the jungles of Northern Thailand, with only a young boy as a guide!], but on reflection, I realize I was looked after, wherever my paths have taken me. Of one thing I am sure: had I not a strong Christian faith and belief in a God who is ever present, I never would have survived the most ravaged paths I found myself on, decades ago. Taking a bird’s eye view of my life’s journey, I believe, through many twists and turns, I was led to Southern California, and meeting the love of my life. After all, the odds of someone from Tulsa Oklahoma meeting and marrying a Colleen from Belfast, are remote! Being new to Los Angeles, I was looking for a church home. Bel Air Presbyterian Church was across the road from my school, so one Sunday, I thought I would investigate. It had a marvelous fifty- five voice choir, a charismatic pastor, friendly members, and activities beyond Sundays. I signed up for a future Writer’s Workshop, and was introduced to the head of the church’s Drama Department. Once she heard of my active interest in theater, I was invited to attend the Drama Group. Within weeks, I was cast opposite a gorgeous man, who, after the first rehearsal, asked me if I had eaten. I hadn’t, so we headed to a local restaurant…and we have been eating together ever since! This weekend, Ralph and I celebrate our twenty- second Wedding Anniversary. The road “less traveled by…has made all the difference.”

I am always fascinated to think of the number of people who pass through our lives incidentally, like individuals we meet as we travel through airports, stations, on planes and trains, at conferences, in restaurants and shops, now, while lining up. There are people who stay in our minds, yet we will never meet again. Somehow, they touched our lives.

Who are the folks who have briefly walked through your life, yet you remember them?

At the moment, we all are on an uphill journey, and, perhaps, growing weary, longing for a less steep path. It is encouraging to remember that the strenuous climbs take us upward, towards the summit. We will gain from our experiences, and the ultimate vista will be wonderful.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” As Christians, whatever path we take, we are never alone: “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…” Genesis 28:15; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5,6; “You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Over and over again, we stand at a fork in the road. It is up to us to decide which path we take. During the weeks ahead, wherever you venture

“May the road rise to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields

And, until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.” ~A Gaelic Blessing

Stay healthy and safe,

Maureen Kalbus

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