What Does it Mean to Live Yes? (On Marking Time and Living Forward)

On New Year’s Eve, I said good-night to my 11-year-old, and the weight of a decade hit me in the chest. Where were we 10 years ago? In another life. Another city, a different house, we only had two kids, neither in school yet. Time and circumstances have reshaped the way we spend our time and who our closest friends are. My inner landscape underwent a seismic shift over the past decade. 10 years ago, I was still a lawyer and had never even heard of spiritual direction. Now I have a spiritual direction certificate and that legal background recedes into a fuzzy someone I used to be. This past decade held a lot of shedding and reorienting, unlearning and piecing back together.

Leaning down to kiss that 11-year-old cheek, I knew that in another 10 years, we’ll be living another life. Our kids won’t be spending New Year’s Eve with us. Mama snuggles will be something of the distant past. Time and circumstances will reshape the way that we spend our time and possibly who our closest friends are. Who will this boy be in 10 years? Who will I be in 10 years? What sorrow and joy will shape us? 10 years is a long time. 10 years is a quick blink.

Welcome to January, friends.

For some reason, I love this season of marking time when we close out one year, and look toward a new year. My birthday follows the day after New Years. So January welcomes a new calendar year and a new birthday year for me.

I don’t make resolutions or set goals, but I love the feeling of new beginnings. The freshness of a calendar with white space. The feeling of emerging from a month of activity and togetherness and finding my way back to a new rhythm. I love this threshold where I look back at the past year to see what I want to bring with me into this new year. I look forward into the unfurling year with trepidation and hope.

I want to make my days count. I don’t need to achieve anything great. I just want to be alive for them: paying attention, living with open-heartedness, grounded in love.

I don’t want my days to be confined by fear or shoulds.

I mark my days, looking back for the invitations strewn across my path.

I look forward, knowing I want to live with a deep Yes.

What does it mean to live Yes?

Richard Rohr describes the indwelling Presence (or Holy Spirit) as a “deep and loving “yes” that is inherent within you. . . . This deep inner “yes” is God in me, is already loving God through me.”[1]

I want to know this Yes. I want to live open to this Yes.

And Jan Richardson writes:

“In the center of ourselves
you placed the power of choosing.
Forgive us the times we have given that power away,
When we have sold our birthright for that which does not
satisfy our souls.
And so in your wisdom may our yes be truly yes
and our no be truly no,
that we may touch with dignity and love with integrity and know the freedom of
our own choosing all our days.”[2]

What does it mean to live Yes?

Our yeses matter. With every yes we utter, we are saying no to some alternative.

What am I saying yes to today? What do I say yes to with my time? What do I want my life to say yes to? What do you want your life to say yes to?

What does it mean to live Yes?

Yes to Showing Up.

Yes to both Joy and Sorrow.

Yes to Creating.

Yes to Invitations.

Yes to the Next Step.

Yes to Love.

Yes to Spaciousness.

Yes to Life.

Yes to Awake.

Yes to What Is.

Yes to What Will Be.

Yes to Justice.

Yes to Mercy.

Yes to Mystery.

Yes to Participating.

Yes to Listening.

Yes to Paying Attention.

Yes to Gratitude.

Yes to Blessing.

Yes to Being.

Yes to Doing.

Yes to More.

Yes to Enough.

Yes to Courage.

Yes to Risk.

Yes to Trust.

Yes to Becoming.

Yes to You, O God. Show us how to say and live yes with our lives.

Practice:

Living forward with intention often requires paying attention to your days. Reflecting back on our days, weeks, months, years, we can notice patterns and invitations. We can see what we are saying yes to.

This is a practice that you can do daily or weekly. Or you could spend some extended time and reflect on your year. When did you experience joy, gratitude, connection, love? When did you feel the most alive? Where were you? What were you doing? How did it feel in your body? In your heart? As you review your days, months, or years, what do you notice about this pattern of life and love? What did you say yes to? Does it match your deep Yes?

As you review your day, week, year, also pay attention to those times where you felt disconnected and disengaged or lost. Where were you least connected to love? What drains your life? Where were you? What were you doing? How does it feel in your body? In your heart? What do you notice about this pattern of disconnection?

How do you want to spend tomorrow? What do you want to say yes to? Are you saying yes to life and love and connection? Can you let go of what drains life from you and leaves you empty and disconnected? Sometimes we need to change the actual details of what we are doing and how we are living. Sometimes what needs changing is our perspective and how we see our lives. Can we open our hearts to Yes?

* * *

This is the basic structure of the Prayer of Examen that St. Ignatius of Loyola taught centuries ago. It’s beautiful in its wisdom and is useful in discerning next steps and invitations and living with intention. Noticing and following the path that brought me life helped me navigate through this past tumultuous decade to where I am today. I trust that as I keep on paying attention to and following after life, I can trust each next step as it unfolds.

What might God be inviting you toward? Hint: God (as far as I can understand God) is in the business of creation and life, right? What happens when we follow that trail?

Resources for the Examen:

Pray as You Go This app will guide you outloud through your Examen practice.

Reimagining the Examen App This app offers multiple variations on the Examen prayer.


[1] Richard Rohr, Silent Compassion, (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2014) 46, 47.

[2] Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions (Cleveland, OH: United Church Press, 1998) 69.

3 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to Live Yes? (On Marking Time and Living Forward)

  1. Hi Jess,

    Just was thinking about your blog and how Roger T. spoke yesterday on “yes” be “yes” and “no” be “no.” You probably know the site—2nd Corinthians 1. He led into an exposa’ on TRUST. Berean has a new address, bereanmn.com , though you can still get to the website with the old address, if you want to check it out.

    Marge

    >

    Like

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