I rarely let the word “No” escape
From my mouth
Because it is plain to my soul
That God has shouted “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
To every luminous movement in existence.
By Hafiz, translated by Daniel L. Ladinsky
I ran across this poem by the 13th century Sufi poet Hafiz on New Year’s Day. First, you should know I am a sucker for New Year’s resolutions. But this year when I realized my list of usual suspects – bikini body by summer, stop procrastinating, read the classics, get organized – haven’t changed or for that matter happened since I was 16, I decided it was time to reevaluate. (The fact that I’m posting this New Year’s blog in February is the first hint this year is no different.)
A new year has the allure of the first page of a journal, clean sheets, fresh starts and second chances. On the most personal level, a new year reminds us of the Grace that lovingly stalks us every moment of our life, patiently waiting for us to pull the curtains open and say “Yes!”
That one simple word requires us to drop our judgments, open the windows and doors of our heart and free the agoraphobic peeking out of our soul.
On a side note, if I could take a road trip with an ancient mystic, Hafiz would be at the top of my list. Tested many times, he always chose love until it engulfed his entire being, opening him up to deep transformation. Even centuries later the words of this self-proclaimed “Holy Bum” are like an intimate ancient friend, gently nudging our spirit with humor and passion and reminding us the first step in this love journey is to not take ourselves so seriously. It also seems Hafiz appreciated a nice wine and dancing in the streets which is an added bonus for any traveling partner in my books.
I love how Hafiz chooses the word “movement” instead of minutes in this poem. To me it means life is more than ticks off a clock. Instead it comes in waves that wash over us with transformation and transcendence.
When I look out my Oklahoma window, I see one of those “luminous movements” to which God said “Yes” – red dirt. Our Creative Creator could have easily chosen the standard black, but instead this simple Divine Yes transformed our landscape, making the greens brighter and bouncing rays of pink back at the sunset. We wouldn’t be the same without it.
Sure there will be things we can count on that will happen over the next 12 months: seasons will change, people will both disappoint and amaze us, technology will advance, there will be even worse TV - but what about the countless unexpected “luminous movements” lining up, vying for a nod from our heart to set them in motion? Will we ask them to take a number and then analyze the light out of them before they even make it to the counter? Or will we let them twirl around in front of us, pulling us into an exquisitely unrehearsed dance?
Drs. Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth who wrote Cultural Creatives describe these cosmic invitations that set the tectonic plates of our soul in motion as “consciousness movements because of their common intention to throw open the windows and doors of the musty old mind-sets we live in, shake the dust out of the covers we wrap around our bodies, and in a thousand old and new ways, guide whoever is willing to show up and pay attention to a fresh experience of being human.”
What keeps us from saying yes? Fear is the obvious culprit. Pile on the judgments we have adopted that now define us and shape our thoughts and you have a pretty good description of the stones at the bottom of the river we cling to with white knuckles while the current of life races above our heads. In the first pages of his book Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach tells a beautiful story of the one creature who would finally surrender to that current, saying “The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.” Who can say no to that?
So this year my intention is to follow Hafiz's lead and say “Yes!” To fully turn into every experience – both pleasant and painful – instead of turning away or moving blindly in the same direction like some spiritual zombie. Of course it will be easy to say yes to the things on my “approved” list, but for yes to really mean yes, it has to apply to the instances when this current of life smashes us against the rocks. Resistance in this case is futile and often causes us to not fully heal, like an incorrectly set bone that has to be re-broken and properly aligned later.
In the practice of yoga, we are guided to use our breath to soften into a pose or asana. This simple movement is a big yes, a turning away from resistance and inviting life force into our being.
Sometimes yes will be bodacious, yelled from a mountain top for the world to hear. Other times it will be whispered timidly into a crack in the Universe, not always sure I am ready for the transformations it will echo back. But most days I imagine it will be saying yes to compassion instead of apathy, listening instead of pretending and acting instead of ignoring – and these little actions can pack big results.
Of course saying “yes” has the potential to lead to unraveling instead of enlightenment, so there are rules of the road that must apply, such as recognizing those situations and people undeserving of our yes and realizing that for intention to manifest, action is required - even if it’s the tiniest of steps. And there will need to be lots of self forgiveness and compassion along the way for those pesky missteps that also count in our journey.
Your intention might be whispered in silence, but your action is lived out loud. I’m not going to lie, that can be a little scary. People may talk.
If you are looking for a place to start being a yes person, I recommend the following steps offered by Mary Anne Radmacher-Hershey:
“Live with Intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”
Because my precious friend, it is.