“Hey friend, how have you been? So here’s the thing. Circumstances with putting on Winterlight are a bit challenging and I’m hoping you might be willing to help.” This is the ask I made to six different adults who served with me on Kanuga’s Winterlight Youth Conference. Each person answered exactly the same, YES! These folks in turn asked four to five other individuals to help them. Each of them responded, YES! To state the obvious, if these folks would have answered in a different way, this gathering would not have happened.
On the last night of this successful gathering I shared with the young people that the reason the event happened was because people said YES; including each of them saying YES to choosing to attend.
Why did these individuals say YES to the invitation? For the leaders I would suggest it was because they are passionate about providing healthy holy experiences for young people. They have a sense of their gifts, and are willing to share them with others. For the young people my sense is some said YES because they wanted to repeat a previous positive experience, and for others they were willing to risk a new adventure.
What gets you to say YES? And what stands in your way to saying YES? When I am passionate or intrigued by the ask it’s easier to say YES. As well, if the person inviting is someone I know, and better yet trust, and clearly needs my help YES is easier. On the other hand, if it is something or someone I am unfamiliar with I am much more tentative. Yet what I have learned is the ‘best yeses’ are not based on my comfort or gift level, or openness to take a risk, but rather a willingness to truly show up.
One of my favorite parables is the story of the Good Samaritan. Person after person passes by, individuals who it would be easy to assume would say YES, but instead say NO to the person who is clearly in need of help. Then comes a fellow, who himself is someone many would rather avoid, who without hesitation says YES to this hurting individual. That for me is the YES we are all called to. When a YES is needed, the response is show up.
Marge Piercy’s poem to To Be of Use I believe speaks to this YES.
TO BE OF USE:
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.