Sunday thoughts: The road less travelled

By Monsignor John Devine

‘The Road Less Traveled’ was written by the American psychiatrist M Scott Peck. Its title is taken from a poem by another American, Robert Frost, which ends:
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 travelled by.
And that has made all the difference.


In captivity in Egypt the people of Israel cried out for deliverance. There had to be an alternative to slavery. The Lord heard their cries. He took pity on them. He sent Moses to lead the people of Israel out of captivity. They exchanged the certainties of slavery for the insecurities of the wilderness; confinement in a concentration camp for getting lost in the open desert; the predictability of regular meals for the novelty of fending for themselves. On the day they left Egypt, Moses the liberator, was their hero. Once abandoned and hungry in the desert they came to blame him for their misfortune. Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content? Slavery was safe and secure and familiar and predictable. They regretted taking the road less travelled.

The Lord intervened with manna from heaven. He bought them off with bread. But bread can only keep us going until lunchtime. "Do not work for food that cannot last," Jesus tells us. Bread can never be fuel for the soul; nor can alcohol or shopping or any other substitute. The road less travelled leaves us hungry and empty because there is something better round the next corner. He who comes to me can never be hungry.