Years ago, we lived for a brief time in Bolinas, a one-horse town along the rugged coast in northern Marin County, just north of San Francisco off the winding stretch of Route 1. To get there you drive past the small, quaint beach town of Stinson Beach and then past Bolinas Lagoon, a serene tidal estuary, home to majestic blue herons, cormorants and egrets. Just after the lagoon, a short stretch of trees camouflage a sharp left turn leading to the unincorporated town of Bolinas — an enclave from California’s sprawling surburbia.
The problem is the town’s residents, many reclusive artists, hippies, authors, iconoclasts, and renegades don’t want visitors, so they remove the street signs. So unless you know the quick left turn onto a small street hiding between trees leading to the town, you’ll bypass this California anomaly. Yet, anyone who finds this road makes their way to downtown Bolinas, a block or two long stretch with one lone cafe, a small general store, Smiley’s Schooner Bar Saloon and Hotel, and not much more. When we lived there, Janice, the local schizophrenic woman, also a town resident, walked around with fruit hanging from strings from her straw hat, and dollar bills pinned to her pants – seeming to fit right in. The beauty of Bolinas’ coastal terrain is wild and untamed. The stretch of beach hugging rugged cliffs, seems far from the world.
The road to God is a road less traveled, a roadway far from the wide, winding, gridlocked, thoroughfares of the world – and yet not an easy road to find.
Jesus tells us the way to get there ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
This narrow gate is the pathway to our true selves and our rightful lives as children of God – a path where everyone is invited — especially the outcasts –where God’s truth-blaring light shines before us.
On this road we enter into God’s light and truth. It is a road without striving, competing, pushing, shoving, wanting, or harming. A road where addictions, harmful behaviors, volatility, judgements, family secrets, jealousies, anxieties or worries, and relationships that degrade, shun or hurt, can’t dwell. It’s a road where we can’t lie anymore.
Where we uncover our true selves from the wreckage of the rat race.
In my BIG dream when Jesus asks if I want to follow him (see my Spiritual Journey), in a sense there’s a choice to make. At that point in my life it meant I’d return to my life fraught with troubles, anxieties and dead end roads, or follow Jesus’ way on a mysterious, uncharted path.
Early followers of Jesus were called followers of The Way. In order to understand this Way, Thomas Kempis articulates it well in the Imitation of Christ, “If we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart, let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.”
Counter cultural. Subversive.
We wash each other’s feet.
We love our enemies.
We don’t dedicate our lives to keeping up with the Jones’.
Or glorify those with fancy houses and cars.
We turn instead to helping the poor.
And befriend the lonely.
We don’t gossip.
We help the widows and orphans.
It’s a road where the ploys of users, braggarts, hurtful, hypocrites blare like large, bruised thumbs.
Jesus called the religious hypocrites of his day “vipers and snakes” and told them they were like “unmarked graves”, “full of greed and wickedness”, putting burdens on others without lifting a finger to help them, turning people away from God, rather than toward God.
The road less traveled is a road is without religiosity.
It’s a road where we find loving, helpful, truthful, generous friends and companions.
Where when we meet the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion, we oil them, stuff them with straw and give them courage, then journey toward home together.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. Psalm 46:4
An image strikes me of beautiful river setting, with blue skies overhead, and lush green moss hugging the river bank. Up ahead is a fork in the river, a massive, mighty salmon moves its great body upstream. One fork is the one leading to God – the other the way of the world, filled with thousands fish moving downstream through the river’s crowded corridor, fish pushing and struggling against one another like the crowds in Walmart on Black Friday.
My son is a junior in high school so I’m surrounded by parents scared out of their minds about the costs of college, most already strapped by mortgages and car payments.
In a practical sense, we refrain from buying into what the world says we need to do to be okay – resisting the spin doctors invading our subconscious minds without our permission, telling us what we need to become more beautiful, skinny, popular.
Author Dallas Willard has written, ‘if I gave you a holiness pill would you take it?’ What if the offering was a ‘million dollars, a mansion and all the traveling to exotic places we could ever imagine”? Sometimes the latter is tempting. What will we do?
In my times of quiet, in silent moments, when I take pause in my busy day, I breathe into my life the breath of God. I love when the pace of my life merges with the rhythm of a stream meandering over and around rocks, making music while it moves, singing a melody of it’s holy song. I want to feel the living Christ in everything, and to realize, to unite with the Way — to be in the world, but not of it, to take the high road. The road less traveled.
For the saints and martyrs, they made specific life choices to focus wholly on God and God’s way. Their conviction to live according to God’s way and not the way of the world was unshaken. Faith reigned. Their commitment to living God’s will placed them on the straight and narrow path without swaying – on the road less traveled.
What about you? Are you stepping onto the road less traveled? Far from it? On it and enjoying the view?
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