Archives for the month of: August, 2011

So, what do YOU do when you come to a fork in the road?  I’d imagine if you’re like most you’ve certainly heard by now the wise, and I think curious, answer given to this timeless question by the baseball great, Yogi Berra.  Yogi states, “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Wow, an obvious but also profound answer wouldn’t you think? Somewhere in the recesses of my mind though I seem to remember this answer was simply intended to give instructions to a guest on how to find his home but over the years it seems to have become a bit of an iconic answer for finding the right road to take in life.  Let’s think just think about it for a minute.  When you come to one of the crossroads of life it’s typically a good idea to move forward in one direction or another and not just settle in where you are.  Just to be clear though this is not to say that it isn’t a good idea to take some time to discern and gain counsel on which road to take.  But the question still remains, “which road is it?” At the end of the day, we still have a decision to make. 


Just look at the picture of your life that has been painted thus far as a result of the various roads you’ve taken over the years.  A left turn here, a right turn there. It’s certainly true we can always play the “what if” games of life to imagine how life might have looked different had we chosen one road over another. But as I’ve looked back on my own life I have seen a decision making standard that has emerged and tended to serve me well when confronted with the decision crossroads of life.  It’s a road of a different kind though.  It is…the road less traveled.  You know the road that represents a decision that seems to be counterintuitive to the predictabilities of life, one that seems opposite to the obvious or one that seems to fly in the face of the traditional norm.  Looking back however I’ve finally realized that there is one distinctly unique characteristic of this road known as “the road less traveled.”  It has very little traffic on it!  And in that it truly is the ultimate freeway.  That place where we are free to be the very people we’ve been designed to be.  That place where we can resist following the seductive illusions of life. That place where we actually stand a fighting chance to be transformed by the renewal of our mind and spirit.  Have you taken this road lately or do you find that you’ve grown weary by the congested roads of life?  Here’s something to think on.  While you may not find this road on your GPS you will find it as you choose not to conform to the ways of the world.  Peace.

So, when’s the last time you encountered this sign?  Perhaps it was at your favorite vending machine when you’ve shown up with money in hand eager and desperately needing to buy a soft drink to satisfy your thirst.  Better, or really worse yet, this sign has been what’s greeted you when you needed to “take care of business” (no less eagerly or maybe even desperately) at the public washroom.  In either event, this is one sign that you rarely welcome seeing in your life.  In fact, when it is encountered we tend to move frantically about pacing until the relief we’re longing for is found.  Isn’t it much the same way with life from time to time?  Don’t we so often find ourselves frantically pacing about in search of that one thing that will bring about that quenching relief?  Doesn’t it seem we’re all at various times in our life on an insatiable quest to medicate the pain that can so often consume our life when the longings of our heart are left unmet?  I’m wondering if part of the answer for us can be found in the sign itself.  In fact, could it that for many of us this is the sign of our life?  For those of us who relate to this maybe the underlying problem is the priorities of our life are simply out of order.  I mean just think about the cumulative, negative effect of putting work over family for years on end or even something as less obvious but equally as degenerative as choosing isolation over community. 

I’ve often thought the priorities of life represent one of the best templates for gaining or maintaining the appropriate perspectives on life.  The question then becomes one of how we best determine the right order of our priorities.  Certainly there is a part that logic plays in helping us discern this answer but it seems we’re better served to look at this in light of what things, which things bring that quenching satisfaction to our souls.  For example, which one of life’s priorities bring healing to the pain rather than just providing momentary numbness.  Maybe the real question we need to consider is who should come first in our life?  After all, isn’t this the place that should be reserved for our highest “priority”?  Peace.              

So, is there anything to be learned from a little tiny acorn?  Perhaps you can think of a time in your life when you’ve sought the refreshing respite under a majestic oak tree.  Just thinking about this reminds me how even in the dead of the summer when the sun’s rays are beating down with relentless intensity the simple shade cast off by that familiar tree brings a satisfying coolness to life at the very moment of need.  It’s as if the tree’s ultimate purpose is to be there to offer the reward of rest for the hard work of life.  It’s seems important to remember that this place of rest began as a tiny acorn planted on a particular day, nurtured and cared for over a long period of time as it grew into one of nature’s beauties.  It’s important as well to note as well that the majesty and full expression of its shade can only be seen in its maturity. As I’ve thought about this imagery for years I’ve seen it as one of life’s great metaphors for raising children.  As parents we too are called to plant the tiny seed of beginnings, then feed and tend to our children as we nourish them and promote their growth to maturity.  Then one day when the hard work is complete we then get to find our rest in the shade of our kids as we observe life from under their tree.  

As I write this post today I do so with a great deal of anticipated delight as my wife and I send our last child off to college.  In doing so we are moving from that season of influence to one of advisement.  As we take on our new role, I’m sure we will continue to see in our son just as we have in our daughter some really “cool” expressions of maturity.  In this we will surely find an abundance of restful joy that will bring a real sense of nourishment to our souls.  How is it with you?  Are you finding rest in the relationships of your life?  Are you planting in and nurturing those closest to you?  Whether you have children or not the opportunity to plant, sew and reap is the same.   Could it just be that this is one place reserved for us to receive the real fruit from our labors…the replenishing rest from a job well done?  Peace.         

So, do you remember the days of the overhead projector?  If you do, you’ll surely remember the 3M Company.  While known mostly for its famous brand of scotch tape, 3M was the leading manufacturer of the overhead transparency.  You know, that clear, 8 ½ x 11 thin sheet of plastic that would stick in the copy machine every time you tried to transfer copy onto the page.  Seemingly, there was no better tool at the time to teach from.  The transparency lent itself to an interactive teaching style whereby the audience could get a visual representation of your thoughts as you penned them on the “overhead page.”  For the longest time I’ve thought that this clear sheet of plastic was one of life’s great illustrations of what it looked like to live a life of transparency; not a “see through” life but a life that others could peer into.  Personally, I’ve sought to live a fairly transparent life characterized by being open with my thoughts, seemingly willing to share the facts of my life with relative ease as I’ve allowed others to have a look inside.  And then I was called out recently (in a good way) with this statement offered up by a caring friend, “You know there is a big difference between transparency and vulnerability.  Ah, one of life’s “ah ha” moments. 

So…I’ve been thinking on this lately and looking inward a bit to test the “ah ha“.  Sure enough I believe I am one of those who is fairly open with my thoughts, ever willing to share the facts of my life while letting other’s get a peek inside.  But as I’ve dug in a bit I’ve come to see the “peek” has been somewhat of a “controlled peek”; controlled in that I’ve been forthcoming with the facts but stingy with sharing my feelings, including to those closest to me.  Oh, I can easily justify or rationalize why this is.  I mean isn’t it true that sharing the facts or thoughts of our lives comes with a much lower risk than putting our feelings out there on the ledge of vulnerability?  Isn’t it true that to share our feelings means we have to come out from behind the curtain of pretend?  That very place where we believe we find so much comfort and where we so adeptly mask over the fact that life really isn’t “all good all the time.”  So how do we get there?  How do we manage the risk as we inch our way towards greater degrees of vulnerability?  For sure this is not a “flip a switch” type of transformation.  It does seem however that much of the answer can be found in seeing clearly the value in doing life in the safety of authentic community one to another.   To put back the real in realness and simply be on the outside what we are on the inside.  Perhaps a quote from the world of entrepreneurship is appropriate here as well, “to risk nothing is to risk everything.”  Peace.          

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