by Elise Seyfried
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/and knowing 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.” — Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
While life may seem to be haphazard and rather random, an awful lot happens because of choices we make. We stand at different crossroads every day, deciding our next move, our next direction. It can be as trivial as ordering dinner from a menu, or as consequential as where to apply to college, or which job to pursue. There are, so often, choices to be made. And even with the wrong choices, we can choose our reaction to them.
I look back on my 59 years on this planet, and I can pinpoint several major crossroads I faced and the consequences of my choices. My marriage to Steve was certainly one of them. We met when I was just 15, were engaged right after I graduated from high school, and I was a bride at 20. That forever commitment at such a young age was my choice, ill-advised as it may have appeared to others.
That road I took, that we took together, has been the greatest adventure of my life. I made other, attendant, choices: not finishing college, going into the theatre, waiting seven years to have children, and then having five of them in quick succession. Moving far away from my family. At each crossroads, I would look both ways, before selecting my path. Sometimes I just glanced hastily, or couldn’t see clearly … those were choices I came to regret.
We came to a crossroads as a nation Tuesday, looked both ways and made our choices. When all was said and done, we collectively started down a new road, some with joy and some of us with fear and trembling. It was, electorally if not popularly, America’s choice, and right now it’s hard to gauge if some people looked hastily, or unclearly, before selecting. But it doesn’t matter now. What matters is how we all deal with this choice.
Here’s how I plan to deal with it: I plan to counter hatred with love, wherever I see it. I plan to embrace my fellow travelers on our road, whatever their color or ethnicity, whatever they believe and whoever they love. I plan to listen to the pain of those who have experienced a different America than I have, be they Muslim immigrants or white unemployed coal miners. I truly believe we are better than our divisions, and more than our differences.
And as I walk into an unknown future, on a brand new path, I take strength from the many millions of companions on the road with me, Republicans and Democrats and Independents. I pray for safety, all of our safety, in the days and years to come. May we more than survive. May we thrive. And may the road we have taken lead to surprising blessings as we navigate it, together.
Elise Seyfried is spiritual formation director at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland, and a writer whose column, “Everyday Matters” appears regularly in the Local. Elise is the author of three books, and many freelance articles for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org