The other day I felt compelled to search for the words of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Less Traveled. Out of the recesses of my dusty file drawers of my mind, I heard the famous refrain of the road less traveled. But I could not remember the whole poem. I needed to see them for myself and to reflect again on the deeper meaning.
It has been a year since symbolically we took the road less traveled. My husband, I, and my four children made that life-changing move of making Aliyah, moving to Israel. We left our home, two excellent professional jobs, and loads of friends, to traverse a very different path.
Perhaps it is no accident that I now boast of my very own less traveled road. Israelis love shortcuts to beat the traffic and I found my own. Most days I leave our Moshav by a back exit that runs alongside the highway. Calling this route a road is too strong a term. It's a dirt and pebble covered path that runs alongside the highway for a short distance. The beauty of it is that it ends at a stoplight where I can easily turn left and avoid the traffic.
As I bump along in my very old, beaten up but trusty car, I often reflect on the symbolism of this path and how it is quickly becoming a powerful metaphor for our lives.
One day when I was particularly late to Ulpan, I was forced to stop dead in my track. Unexpectedly I encountered several mountains of black pebbles strategically blockading my egress. It is not easy to back up or turn around, but I did. The next day, for some unexplainable reason, I tried again, and the piles were gone. Part of my road was much smoother courtesy of the pebble people, whoever they might be. I stopped, called home and announced, “My road is fixed. “ Call me a bit narcissistic, but from then on it became my path.
As I frequently bump along the path in my ancient car, the road speaks to me. It bespeaks of change and transformation. It bespeaks of simplicity and it echoes the possibilities of the future. A couple of years ago, I never would have imagined taking driving along such a path. Likewise, I never would have imagined trading in my nice van for an old, dented one without a radio. Nor would I have imagined living in a place where I can smell the cows and where my daughter sights a flock of sheep strolling through her school parking lot.
We dove into the deep end before fully learning to swim.
My husband and I never seem to choose the easy path. Our Aliyah is symbolic of the rest of our lives. We came to Israel with teenagers (not an easy thing to do). At a time, when we were at the height of our professional careers, we chose to give it all up and start all over again.
But more than that, we made a conscious decision to dive into the deep end before fully learning to swim. The helpful folks at Nefesh B’Nefesh tried to steer us into an easier landing here. They recommended moving to a place like Modiim or Beit Shemesh, with lots of Anglos for us and for our children. Instead we forsook that option for cows and Hebrew immersion and living among native born Israelis. On a daily basis, we are tested with new challenges and new lessons.
Likewise the lessons of my road continue. Just when I thought my road was all clear, I pull up to find some helpful person yelling at me in Hebrew. I couldn’t quite understand what he was saying, so I stubbornly kept driving. Guess what? The helpful pebble donor had delivered several more mounds of gravel. I guess there was more paving to be accomplished. But my traverses weren’t all for naught. This time there was a bit of space for me to drive, albeit at an angle. I hesitated for only a moment and then forged ahead slowly. Sometimes, one has to veer a bit off the chosen path to make it work.
Many times since, as I drive along the path, I think of yet another lesson. Sometimes it is about the power of simplicity. Sometimes it is about the need for peace and quiet and getting away from the hustle and bustle. And sometimes it is about the lonely road we all travel. I can only hope and pray that I continue to notice the profound in the simple. For all of us, it is so easy to rush along from task to task, never taking note of the simple messages that we encounter.
As I contemplated Frost’s wise words from so long ago, I was captured by one other refrain:
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
I don’t want to go back. I like the crossroad we have faced. Our Creator seems to have gently aimed us in the right direction and I am grateful for the paths we have taken.