When I run I get to make choices. Which way I choose to go. How fast I choose to run. When I will choose to turn-around. Where I will choose to pick up a CapriSun or Kool-Aid juice pack for rehydration. Running is filled with choices. Sometimes life includes choices. Sometimes life does not.
A long term resident and friend is in a distant place tonight, headed to a new post far from a place that has been a home to him for decades. His departure was not directly his choice, but rather a result of a commitment he made years ago. Some have suggested he should set aside that commitment, others have petitioned those who might have the authority to permit him to remain here. He has remained quiet and honored that commitment.
Life sometimes asks us to walk a path we do not want to walk, to be lead where we do not want to go. A path we did not choose. A change in circumstances, illness, tragedy, or a loss that is too painful to bear.
For the fateful faithful, God’s plan. For the anarchic faithless, “shit happens.” Neither makes the change, the path, comprehensible. Neither is an explanation. Some things are without explanation.
I realize that for the friend who is far from here tonight that men have sent him to this new place, not God. The point is not the cause but the commitment. He is going where his feet do not want to go because he is honoring a vow. The one choice we can make amid the incomprehensible chaos of life.
Another friend has said the same to me, “This is a promise I want to prove to myself that I can keep until I die. I want to know that I can do that.” The point is not whether the choice is an optimal choice, the point is the commitment. A word, an ethereal promise ultimately to oneself.
We keep promises and hold to vows as a way of creating a small island of stability in the chaotic void. In those small places there is safety, security, and a chance for love to flourish. We go where our feet do not want to go because we choose to do so.