Do they conjure up moments of fear, shaky knees, uncertainty or perhaps joy, adventure or epic moments of excitement where you’re pretty sure your heart is beating on the outside of your chest like a cartoon?
I’ll admit it, when surprises occur I have a tendency to be completely shaky and choose responses like "o but i’ve got to go, I’m too busy, I’m not sure - can I get back to you?"
This reflection is on my recent and on-going movements to leap seemingly like a blind meerkat crossed with a kangaroo into the unknown waters of ‘Yes'...
If you want to make God laugh... tell God your plans!
More often than not calamity ensues and I’m left with the sobering realisation that I am indeed kidding myself. And, I’m fairly sure God is having a good laugh!
A metaphorical lighting strike recently hit me around the time of Ash Wednesday as I found myself contemplating the question “So, what are you doing for Lent?”
Smoke emerged from my ears with eye brows raised as I contemplated the three things I needed to cover for Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving. Hmmm…
Almsgiving is all focused on what we give-out. We are here to help one another, and travel this life together. I'm convinced God (a.k.a love) is found in community.
After a bit of head scratching I thought if I attempted to say yes more to the unknown surprises then I would give-out more openness, more inclusivity, more joy? Hey, it was worth a shot...
Moving past Ash Wednesday I set myself a goal to not instantly respond no. As opportunities have arisen I've turned off auto pilot, pushed myself to re-think, contemplate, and if possible respond yes. There have been occasions where I have needed to say no in order to say yes to previous commitments such as class or ministry placement. But, I have and am more mindful to be open to the spirit, to embrace surprises, to let go of my plans and embrace random encounters. I am (often comically) now finding myself hopping from A - F - Z - P.
Surprisingly I am more attentive, in some ways i’m seeking out encounters more. I've been putting away my phone; saying hello to people on the train or while standing at the lights. Taking a new running route on a whim. And just last week I said Yes to participating in an all day 3on3 basketball tournament to celebrate International Womens Day. I’ll admit I was a bit apprehensive, I didn’t know many people there. But hey, I said yes and what followed was a magic day of new connections, a few baskets, a whole lotta laughter and what felt like love that can only come from a courageous yes.
"The willingness to consider possibility requires a tolerance of uncertainty."
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
By saying yes to what stirs you, to what blows your way I’m discovering that I am in turn further saying no to fear. It takes courage to let go of fear, and trust in order to be open to the unknown ways of the spirit. Gulp.
Yes has also moved into my current study / ministry. I am currently spending time as a Pastoral Care student on the Wards at St Vincent’s hospital in Kings Cross, Sydney. It’s not an easy situation to walk into; with each patient I never know how they will react. When fear takes hold I find myself wondering if am I jumping in as a blind meerkat / kangaroo about to be tossed to the wolves?
Initially I was understandably apprehensive and fearful. But, with courage and trust in the spirit of Yes i’m now gaining confidence, opening and sharing life, laughter and love with those who really do need a listening ear.
These encounters and shared growth confirm that I’m not saying yes just for me!
Each Friday I’m fasting from 12am - 12pm. No meat on Fridays + am mindful not to over indulge.
As for prayer, i’ve taken to turning off the iPad at night (i had developed a habit of watching a show or two before bed). Instead I’m forming a new habit; listening to PAYG Podcasts, other podcasts and devoting about an hour to drawing each night.
A recent reflection from Richard Rohr also pointed out how yes can be applied to prayer:
“People often ask me how long they should pray, and I say, “As long as it takes you to get to yes.” If your heart and emotions are still saying “No!” to the moment right in front of you, don’t leave your place of prayer until you find “Yes,” until the flow begins to happen and the constriction (which often feels like pettiness) begins to lose its hold on you. Then you’re abiding in a place of abundance where you know there’s more than enough of you left over, and you don’t need to be stingy, guarded, or hold on to even minor grudges. You can let love flow—to you and through you—toward all the world around you.” ~ Richard Rohr
The spirit-filled winds of change blow us ineffable opportunities.
May we continue to listen, leap... 'Yes'