rituals: the sacred space of yes (holly pennington).

Oh friends, I am so excited for you to read this piece: first of all, it comes from a most-gracious friend I’ve gotten to know in this internet-space, Holly. She is so gracious, in fact, she was willing to change her original writing date to accommodate MY poor communication in All Things Calendar. But more than that, many of you loved Suzanne Burden’s words a couple of weeks ago, on saying no – and Holly’s writing today is in direct contrast to that, in the best and simplest of ways. Enjoy her yes. 

There’s a place where my two daughters rarely hear “no.”

Parenting is a language of qualified yeses (yes, if you…) and a whole lot of no’s, so entering the sacred space of the simple yes – yes without limits – is something to savor.   And we get to savor it weekly, as we fill our canvas grocery bag with books, climb in the minivan and head to the library.

Our weekly ritual, full of yes: the library.

Flickr Creative Commons: Daniel Foster
Flickr Creative Commons: Daniel Foster

At the library, limits are high and yeses are many.   Our library’s check out limit is 100 items, a number I find simultaneously endearing, ridiculous and inspiring. Even I, a self-proclaimed library nerd who shamelessly pays fines quarterly and asks for due date extensions for lost children’s books every other month, can only claim 56 items as my record check out high.

But, the 100 item limit sets the tone of yes.

Because the library’s limits are high, mine can be too.   When my five-year-old chooses a board book written in Spanish, I say yes. In July, when she excitedly holds up the book about the origin of St. Patrick’s Day, I say “why not?” When her little arms fill up with a stack of 15 books, I smile and nod yes.   My daughters know that, at the library, my answer is yes.

At the library, scarcity is forgotten.

I would love to see a welcome sign on the front door of our library that says, “Abundance resides here.” Because, even in the smallest library branch, the world feels big. When we walk through the doors of our little library, we step outside the lines that carefully enclose our suburban life. We enter the edgeless, blurry space of the world beyond.

In the library, we are reminded that there is more than enough. Endless shelves of books tell us that everyone has a story, that there is always something waiting to be learned. Tables filled with people of all socioeconomic statuses, races and ages, who come for internet access, shelter from the rain, and toilets, as well as something to read, listen to or watch, remind us of our similarities instead of our differences. And the palpable imagination that comes with meandering through the picture book section leaves us with a sense of empowered wonder:   How did they think of that? Maybe my imagination can be that big too.

At the library, independence and adventure thrive.

At the age of six, my oldest daughter excitedly applied for her own library card.   As she chose the design, used it for the first time and found a special place to store it at home, it felt like a rite of passage. Another library yes.   Independence flourishes in the sacred space of yes as my daughters choose whatever books they want, stand on stools that make them tall enough to reach the self-checkout computer, and proudly carry their own library cards.

Each weekly library visit holds the promise of adventure, both inside the library walls and out. The growing curiosity that comes with visiting a place over and over again leads us out of the children’s area and into the poetry section one week, and away from books and into CD’s the next. Exploration continues after we leave the library, our canvas bag filled with the maps that will lead our minds into new territories. New territories full of stories that will shape who we each become.

All because of our sacred space of yes: the library.

Holly PenningtonHolly Pennington writes about vulnerability, faith and freedom at www.dreadlocksandgoldilocks.com.  She lives near Seattle, where she is grateful for the awesome public library system.  She would love to connect with you on Instagram, Facebook and TwitterIt’s Cara again: I love how Holly’s YES brought me to a magical library space. So, where do you see an unlimited YES in your life? And how did Holly’s ritual with her girls touch you today?

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