I’ve written and spoken of The Rubicon in the past. For those of you who have forgotten or may have never known what the significance of The Rubicon is I offer this bit of history.
The Rubicon is a river in northern Italy that for centuries marked the northern boundary of the Roman homeland and separated it from Gaul, the land of the Franks. Roman tradition or law as it were, was that when a returning Roman army reached the north bank of The Rubicon the commanding General had to surrender his command to the Roman Senate before crossing The Rubicon. Should a General fail to surrender his command at that point it was considered a declaration of war against Rome; a declaration from which there was no retreat, no “whoops I didn’t really mean that, please forgive me and we’ll go back and start over.” The fact that the river itself was notorious for changing course from time to time was no excuse for recanting. Julius Caesar knew full well when he stepped into the shallow waters of The Rubicon what he was doing.
Suetonius, noted Roman historian and biographer, quotes Caesar as saying, “Let us go where the omens of the Gods and the crimes of our enemies summon us! THE DIE IS NOW CAST!”
Down through the years The Rubicon has come to represent irrevocable decisions and actions. As individuals, I believe that each of us reaches that point in our lives where we have a choice to back away from an irretrievable decision and let life carry us on as before or … to wade into that rushing water committed to the far bank and whatever it holds for us.
I’ve had many thoughts and visions over the years about what my decision would be if I ever found myself standing on the north bank of The Rubicon. Would the forces at my command stand behind me and remain loyal? Would the forces arrayed against me on the far side manage to overwhelm me before my feet were even dry? It’s not a decision made lightly. It’s a decision made only after reviewing the options.
To remain on the north bank of The Rubicon would mean that life would pretty much go on as before. Going to a job and a church I loved in the same capacity as before, with the same creeping concerns of being nonetheless not exactly what I appeared to be. In spite of that I’ve been happy there on the north bank … always looking across to the other side without any expectation of making that irrevocable decision. Then suddenly and almost without warning the imperial city beckoned on the far side.
The resources and support fell in behind me there on the north bank. Within a matter of mere months every single possible obstacle that had kept me there on the north bank, albeit content on the north bank; all those obstacles vanished. My army swore allegiance to me and thus, THE DIE IS NOW CAST!” I waded into The Rubicon headed for the south bank and whatever awaited me there.
I hardly got wet. In the blink of an eye there I was, standing on the south bank of The Rubicon. I would love to know if Julius Caesar experienced what I did the minute he realized that he was now there on the south side, irrevocably committed to challenging the imperial city and all it represented.
I will confess, that the very first thought on arriving at the south bank was, “Oh God, I think I’ve made a horrible mistake” If Caesar had that thought when he set foot on the far side it’s never been mentioned. I doubt that he did because he had a huge support team behind him and another awaiting him there on the south banks of the river.
My misgivings at that point were short lived. Although I had been aware of the possibility of regret, I really wasn’t expecting it. But what was I supposed to do. I had irrevocably challenged the imperial city. Was I now going to throw myself on my sword? That was not an option for me.
It’s a rare experience to realize that you have made an irrevocable decision, followed through on that decision and overcome the fear to realize that the joy and happiness resulting from that irrevocable decision are yours and they are real.
Yeah Joey, I still wish on occasion that “I was three again, knowing what I know now.”