We holed up for 24 hours this weekend with friends, new and old, learning and being and relishing in sacred time together. We went on long walks in the beauty of Tomales Bay, the land of oysters and cheese and sparsely-populated wineries. We asked each other questions, and we told stories; the HBH and I tried our hardest to teach Cancan to say, “please,” not because we felt like we had to, but because the grunting was starting to get on my mama-nerves.
“Mama, please? …Mama, please? …Mama, please?” I’d prompt, holding the blueberries at bay, until he too couldn’t take it any longer and a glottal “PEAS!” with big, toothy smile earned him a handful of fruit.
But then those magical beings called childcare workers took all the children, holing up in the green house on top of the hill. And we adults were free.
Glory, glory. Glory, glory.
We gathered together and read prayers together, a practice that is new, but nothing short of powerful to me – for I realize the power these ancient words hold, the Spirit who has resided in those sentences and phrases and groans for hundreds of thousands of years. I close my eyes, but then quickly, quickly, I open them again, and either way – eyes wide open, or crinkled tightly shut – I acknowledge the holiness in the moment.
I breathe in the Spirit – I inhale Truth and I exhale Peace, for the power of these ancient words has grabbed my soul again. Again.
And then I hear these words, in a poem read aloud:
You are the God who is simple, direct, clear with us and for us.
You have committed yourself to us.
You have said yes to us in creation,
Yes to us in our birth,
Yes to us in our baptism,
Yes to us in our awakening this day.
But we are of another kind,
More accustomed to “perhaps, maybe, we’ll see,”
Left in wonderment and ambiguity.
We live our lives not back to your yes,
But out of our endless “perhaps.”
So we pray for your mercy this day that we may live yes back to you,
Yes with our time,
Yes with our money,
Yes with our sexuality,
Yes with our strength and with our weakness,
Yes to our neighbor,
Yes and no longer “perhaps.”
In the name of your enfleshed yes to us,
Even Jesus who is our yes into your Future. Amen.
-“Yes,” Walter Brueggemann
Because sometimes I don’t understand my own beliefs – my insides scream, Help me mine unbelief! My faith is no longer what it was as a child. It does not look the same as it did when I was a zealous high school student and a seemingly faultless college kid; it looks different than it did 10 years ago when I lived in Santa Cruz, and five years ago when I was working for Young Life, and one year ago when I left ministry altogether. And sometimes, if I’m honest, all this change scares me.
But then I remember that change is a good thing – it’s a very good thing.
For I’m embracing, maybe a little more than I did just yesterday, that the Christian faith is not about me saying yes to God, but it’s about God saying yes to his people. I can simply, solely, selflessly respond to the Creator’s yes, and that is enough.
It’s enough for today, because it changes my today.
As Brueggeman wrote, it changes my yes to money, and it changes my yes to my neighbors, and it changes my yes to sexuality. It changes my “perhaps” and my “maybes” into a yes, because the weight of performance and the load of perfection are off my shoulders. I’m free just to be. The only thing I can do is respond.
And that, I think, is the Kingdom – it’s a right here, right now, gutturally responsive yes.
At least that’s what I’m practicing today.
What about you? What does it mean to say “yes” in your faith tradition, Christian or otherwise? How does Brueggeman’s poem speak to you?