For All Who Have Chosen Wrong Roads

Maybe it’s the bright yellow of autumn here in New England, or perhaps it’s just my affinity for Robert Frost’s view of the world, but I can’t seem to turn calendar pages past the fall equinox without mumbling phrases from “The Road Not Taken.” It’s unfortunate that a glut of 70’s-era posters and way too many graduation speeches have rendered the poem hackneyed, mooring it in its final and familiar stanza:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This simplistic portrayal of a fork in the leaf-strewn path seems to veer on past the melancholy of regret that characterizes so much of Frost’s poetry. Hear it in this earlier line from “The Road Not Taken”:

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 . . .

It is both our glory and our demise that humanity has the ability to re-cycle a decision. This was nearly my undoing when I was agonizing over college choices and the selection of a major, but it has gifted both freedom and fresh air to me in my understanding of calling during these years of living past the mid-point.

Picking up C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce after a long absence, I have been surprised to find not only the expected words about the great chasm between good and evil, but also glorious truth for those who have chosen what they now see to have been a wrong road. Lewis likens the restorative process to the correction of a math problem which (after having shepherded four homeschooled sons through algebra, I can heartily attest) “can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point.”

This is good news to me, for, I can think of a number of things I’d like to “work afresh.” I invite you to join me in taking a good hard look at the elements of your own story that cause you to hang your head or avert your eyes – or go foraging in the fridge in search of something to fill you up.

Capture

And while you’re thinking about that, come on over to SheLoves Magazine and finish reading my ponderings on wrong roads and the truth that they are not dead ends after all, so long as we don’t insist on “simply going on.”

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Grief, Regret, and Second Chances

Irene Hannon examines grief and the providence of God while also exploring the nature of guidance and the importance of cleaning up our messes while they are still fresh.  There’s an ocean of wisdom pouring out along the narrative flow of her new work of contemporary fiction:  Hope Harbor.

When Michael Hunter takes a leave of absence from his job in the mid-west and flees to the Oregon coast, he plans to “get his life back” and tend to some unfinished business in grieving for his deceased wife.  To his surprise, in two weeks’ time, he has become delightfully enmeshed in the community of Hope Harbor with its charming coastal atmosphere and its enigmatic food vendor who serves up fish tacos and godly wisdom through his open window.  Irene’s fresh and vivid portrayals enrich the unfolding plot as Michael risks getting better acquainted with Tracy, the lovely yet aloof young woman who nearly mowed him down with her bike on his first day in Hope Harbor.  As the ice between them thaws, they ponder the mystery behind Michael’s crusty landlady’s uncharacteristic friendliness toward him — and then go on to tackle the thorny issue of rescuing Tracy’s family farm from imminent financial disaster.  With her heart already wounded, is it wise for Tracy to trust her growing feelings for Michael when he has made it clear that he has no plans to stick around?

Irene Hannon’s characters are authentic on their feet of clay, so their struggles feel genuine, and yet they manage to serve as credible role models for readers who are also on a journey toward hope.  It turns out that grief and regret often go hand-in- hand, and that these twin sorrows are part of the story for more than one resident of Hope Harbor.  Anna the crusty landlady with “hard miles on her odometer” and a growing determination to start fresh; Tracy with her farm-girl work ethic and fierce loyalty to her family; and Michael with his vision and his gifting for helping the helpless all find that unexpected grace comes in every-widening circles as they discover the miracle of second chances.


For my interview with author Irene Hannon, click here, and/or to read reviews of two of her works of romantic suspense, click here and here.

This book was provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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