Road Less Traveled

In his bestselling book The Road Less Traveled, the celebrated Harvard psychologist M. Scott Peck reflected about his experience with a particular female client.  She had been mired in a deep depression for a long time.

On the morning of one of her appointments, as if to compound her misery, her car broke down.

When she called to reschedule, Peck suggested that he might drive by and pick her.  On the way to work that day he was planning to stop and make a hospital visit.  Would she mind sitting in the waiting area during that time?

When they actually drove up to the hospital, however, something more interesting occurred to Peck.

He gave her the names of two of his other patients who were hospitalized.  He knew that both would enjoy a visit.

Would she be willing to drop in and say hello to these two complete strangers?  “Sure,” she answered.

Ninety minutes later they rendezvoused in the hospital lobby.

The woman’s depression had lifted dramatically.

Spending time with those two patients, and graciously focusing on their needs, had filled her heart with joy.

Peck was excited.  “Well, now we know one way to help you through your depression.”

The woman was startled.  “You don’t expect me to do that every day, do you?”

The answer, of course, is yes.

Or at least to grasp that giving ourselves to the things of God is the ultimate get-to, not a soul-crushing have-to.

The title of Peck’s book, The Road Less Traveled, had emerged from an observation he had made over the years.  One hundred percent of his clients wanted to feel better.  But when they eventually discovered some specific pathway that might lead not just to feeling better for a while but to personal transformation, only about 10% were willing to pursue it.

Only a few were prepared to do the hard, long-term work of addressing the deepest needs of their hearts.

Following Jesus is not a drop-in-whenever-it-works-for-me proposition.

As the contemplative Thomas Merton once put it:  “The spiritual life is, first and foremost, an actual life.”

We may not see a lot of traffic on the road less traveled.

But it definitely leads to the place where we’ve always wanted to go.

— Authored by Glenn McDonald

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