Poems, songs, books, and movies have been written about roads. Like shoes, mountains, and valleys, roads are a ready allegory for how we make our way through life. Give yourself ten seconds and you’ll be able to come up with a line about a road that has meant something to you along the way.
I think of the Robert Frost poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’, which I first heard in high school but which resonated for me when we sang a musical setting in college. I think of ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’, by John Denver, or Sheryl Crow’s ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’, or ‘Get Out the Map’, by the Indigo Girls. I recently found a lot of wisdom in Hannah Hurnard’s ‘Hinds’ Feet on High Places’ and I love all of the road symbolism in movies like ‘Forrest Gump’. Generally, people can make sense of a road as a symbol of life. We’re all walking, or running, or sitting. We meet people and see things along the way. We try to move forward. We can’t see what’s up ahead. You can never guess what the weather will bring or how it will affect our progress. We want to get where we’re going. We get it.
Roads are winding, unpredictable, and sometimes pleasant places to be, like life. Sometimes it’s the most wonderful thing in the world to stroll down one, and sometimes it’s hard to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes we bask in the sun and the view and sometimes we long for a detour or a ramp or a change of scenery.
I have prayed daily for my kids to walk a good road, the one that God has planned for them, and for them to never depart from it, though I know that’s usually not how it works. More often, we play catch up, and find alternate routes as we go. In the Bible, Matthew tells us the road to destruction is wide and narrow is the road that leads to life, only a few finding it. That verse is a tough one for me.
I like to think of myself hand in hand with God as we travel on my road. Sometimes I wander and He comes after me, takes me by the hand and we keep going, but the time I spend in the tall grass, or the forest, or the garden is a part of me and I can’t pretend it’s not. Maybe time spent there brings provision for what’s ahead, a memory or a piece of wisdom, something useful that will serve me later in my travels.
I do know I never walk alone. My sense of direction is pretty terrible sometimes, but if I can just see the sky, my feet usually take me where I need to go. And whether I loop around or get a little lost along the way, I think I know where I’ll end up. I hope so.