The Way

Poets and storytellers have a way of speaking the depths of our souls. Verbalizing the threads of me that lurk and waft somewhere below conscience thought.  The poets that speak to me carrying messages from me to me.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could….

Long I stood. Looking. Watching. Seeing. Observing. Planning. Indecisive. Non-committal. Erratic. Stop-start.  Waiting for certainties, for the door to spring open, for the spotlight to shine on one path, dreaming of knowledge to select the “right” path, the way without mistakes, without regrets.

So what to do when the path we’ve seen heads in the wrong direction? Or the path ends? Or when today’s sinkhole swallows the road before my very eyes?  Or when the wet leaves underfoot are too slick for walking and I slide into the muck and the cold slime?  Or what if I just don’t like the way it feels under my feet?  Or the scenery’s getting so monotonous?

What are the paths when the future is uncertain?  When the world is shifting, when what has been known and understood is passing away? When the old ways no longer work? Thirty years ago, twenty years, maybe even ten, the road I want to walk was so clear, well-trodden, well-understood. Not any more. The old is passing away.

Do I even recognize the new? What’s a path look like when the world is unstable, fertile, simultaneously brimming with promise and impending doom?

The poet sends an answer, softly, silently, whispering into the silence.

Caminante…. Caminante…. Caminante….. Wanderer. (How appropriate.) 
No hay camino
. There is no road.

What?!!?  There is no road??? But I need a road. I WANT a road. I don’t know how to go forward without a road. You know — one with maps and those big green signs and a full-color guidebook. Get me the Garmin.  And oh yeah, wasn’t a private tour guide offered in the advertisement?

Caminante….. Caminante….. Caminante…..

Son tus huellas el camino. Your footsteps ARE the road. Al andar se hace camino. By walking one MAKES the road. Son tus huellas el camino. Su camino. Y nada mas. Your footsteps are the road. YOUR road. And nothing more.

Really?  You mean I just put one foot in front of the other?  Head in a general direction? Wow. Are you sure?

Yes. Just walk. The fact is that we were made for these times. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement. 

Yes, I can see that.  How the threads of the distant past are weaving through recent days.  But I can’t even see the space for the very next footstep! And so often, it seems like I’m walking alone.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear.

I do recognize those great souls. I have known them and I do know them.  That helps. But I still can’t see that next footstep.  And so often it seems like nothing is happening.  I want change. Now. Not tomorrow. Not five years from now.

Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing.

Just keep walking.

Just keep walking.

Excerpts from Robert Frost, Antonio Machado, Clarissa Pinkola Estes


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