The Old Dirt Road
By Sister Pat Rooks

         There is something peaceful and serene about walking down an old dirt road.  It is always bereft of those hundreds of speeding cars, full of road rage and competition, found on highways and expressways. Some of the most treasured memories of my childhood are associated with the old dirt road that led through the woods and into the corn and tomato fields.  It was a place of quiet and contemplation that made you feel your oneness with all creation.  I have come to see it as the most important road of my life.

        However, I also have chosen to walk on other roads, roads with many more traffic rules and scheduled times for stopping and going.  "Life is difficult"   wrote Scott Peck as he began his book, The Road Less Traveled. Robert Frost, who I believe, actually coined the phrase The Road Less Traveled, wrote, "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 made all the difference."

        "Difficult" and "with a sigh" seem to conjure up for me the ever present Paschal Mystery, which envelopes our lives on these many roads which we travel whether we are aware of it or not.  The Paschal Mystery is present in nature as we watch the seasons turn from death to new life so very evident on the Old Dirt Road.  It is also present in the Christian story of passion, death and resurrection.  But it is also present in our lives as we struggle with difficulties, and sigh with the expenditure of physical and emotional energy.  Yet in all, I believe that we grow spiritually in renewed life, higher consciousness and greater love.  

       As I think back over the times in life when I chose a road not too high on the popularity scale, it usually entailed much effort and energy to walk its challenging way.  Yet, at its end, there was a sense of accomplishment and inner peace.   To speak of "difficult" roads or "telling with a sigh," can sound depressing and lead to misunderstanding.  For the road less traveled is inspiringly challenging and invigoratingly rewarding.  So, to travel it well and willingly, will always improve one's skills, hone one's motives and create a depth of love in one's heart. Truly taking the road less traveled will make all the difference.  But for me, none compare to the Old Dirt Road.

 

Sister Pat is a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur whose charism is showing forth the goodness of God in working in education in peace and justice especially for the poor.  Presently she is ministering in parish religious education.  You can contact her at patricia.rooks@sndden.org.