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Way to Go

by Msgr. Archimandrite Robert L. Stern

Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

This evocative verse of Antonio Machado loses something in translation, but it more or less says:

Wayfarer, there is no way,
the way is made by wayfaring.

It may have applied to Southern California before any Europeans arrived there, but it surely doesn’t now.

Recently, I was driving about in the Los Angeles–San Diego area visiting friends and relatives. What a spaghetti tangle of ways – winding country roads, local city streets, broad avenues, highways, interstate highways and freeways.

Some people find New York City traffic intimidating, but as a native New Yorker I was in awe of superfreeways with six or more lanes of traffic all speeding in the same direction.

I was fascinated by a gadget in my rental car – a global position monitor and guidance system. Enter an address using a small keyboard and ask for guidance. A voice guides you to your destination – wherever it is – telling when and what turns to make.

There is also a constantly scrolling map on a small screen that shows you exactly where you are whether you are asking for guidance or not.

Naturally the system chooses the most direct way to get where you are going, using the best roads. That means it guides you onto the nearest freeway rather than using local streets, even if they are a tad more direct.

But, the system doesn’t allow for traffic congestion, repairs or accidents. For example, it sent me onto the main interstate highway through downtown Los Angeles during rush hour. This may have been the most direct way to go as the crow flies, but it certainly wasn’t the fastest.

Sometimes the fastest, best way to get to your destination is a long way around or involves detours because of particular conditions on the preferred road.

There is some analogy here with one’s way of life – that is, with choosing the road that leads us through this life to its fullness. It is not the case that “Wayfarer, there is no way.” Quite the contrary, there are many ways, some of which are competitive, one with the other.

Are all ways through life equal? Hardly. Some ways take you to where you want to go and others don’t get you there at all. Also, some direct roads are better than others. The journey through life has its country lanes as well as its superfreeways.

Like roads, sometimes the best way is temporarily blocked or slowed down. But, generally it is still the best way to go. Every now and then an interstate highway more or less follows an “old” highway. But the new, fast road often bypasses many charming towns and villages that were on the old road.

You can’t have it all. Although the new road may be better, you do lose some good things of the old. That’s life, too.

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Msgr. Archimandrite Robert L. Stern, Secretary General of CNEWA



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