Or did I dodge a bullet?
Over dinner with our daughter and her husband and our granddaughter in Florence last night something came up about the unexpected paths careers sometimes take. I mentioned that soon after retiring from the Senate I was offered an exciting opportunity to go to the then new Republic of Georgia to assist their new legislature in setting up a legislative information system and the equivalent of the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress. It came with a handsome salary, a car and driver, an apartment and a housekeeper, a translator, and two trips home to the States a year. All I had to do was say yes. I considered it as long as I could but eventually said no. I’m not completely sure why, but I think that the fact that there was still an on-going civil war in Georgia and that one dared not go five miles outside the capital city had a lot to do with it.
Soon afterwards the opportunity to come to St. Alban’s came up. I’m glad I hadn’t committed to something else already.
How might that other have turned out. Maybe I’d have played a crucial role in establishing a functioning democracy in a newly independent country. It’s a heady thing to imagine.
We see, or imagine we see, the future but dimly. Sometimes something within us says yes, step into the unknown. Sometimes though that inner voice says ‘that way be dragons.’ We never know if they were really there or if they were just unfamiliar in appearance. We can never know the end of the road not taken.
Some of you, dear readers, might be facing such forks in the road you are traveling. And while it is true that if you say no to something you are saying no to all that might flow from it; it is also true that saying no to something can open up other unexpected opportunities.
All I can advise is weigh carefully, listen to your inner voice, and be true to your sense of your unique vocation in life.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 19-April-2016.