When we speak of going through a crisis today, we usually mean a time of intense difficulty, danger or trouble. While there’s nothing technically incorrect about this understanding, did you know the word crisis was taken from a Greek word that had a very different meaning? Originally it was used to speak of the turning point in a disease – a time when an important change takes place – change that leads to either recovery or death. This should remind us that a crisis is more than the difficult, dangerous or troublesome event. What’s more important than the crisis event is our response to the crisis. Whether it’s the treatment of a disease, a financial problem, a relationship problem or any of a long list of difficulties we experience from time-to-time, at some point one stands at a crossroads in the course of that event. One path will lead to recovery and the other to a less favorable resolution.
Although Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, was about individualism, I think it can also be a great way to look at the experience of standing at the crossroads of a crisis. Here’s the poem:
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
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Sometimes the road to recovery (for individuals and organizations) is the road less traveled. Doing the same old things the same old ways generally provides the same old results. If things are going the wrong direction, perhaps it’s time to move the journey to another road.
Holy One, May your Spirit guide us to the right path to choose and accompany us on the journey. Amen.
Mark is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is currently serving as the Associate Pastor of Caring Ministries here at Saint Andrew Christian Church. Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.