In preparing for this blog, I was reflecting on the importance of saying “Yes”.
In my reflections I recognised that to make transformation a reality continually lived, was contingent on my ‘Yes’ to life itself and ‘Yes’ to using my innate gifts and talents. In so doing, I could then trust that I was co-creating with God and His vision – His plans not just for my life but in community with those around me. However, I also recognised that ‘Yes’ needed an ‘invitation’ before the consent could be given. Some ‘Yes’ promptings emanating from internal nudges, others overt invitations, while still others encouragement coming from someone who sees that ‘something’ that one cannot see in oneself.
When I took the risk to say ‘yes’ to either interior or overt invitations, the outcomes were usually beyond what I could have imagined. On a deeper level the outcomes resulted in a profound sense of satisfaction and a new confidence.
Conversely, how frequently have I ignored that same ‘nudge’ or invitation – ignoring or declining it because I felt inadequate, fearful, shy and choosing to stay within the confines of my ‘cave’ rather than taking a risk. The outcome of this always resulting in a sense of diminishment or a regret for the loss of opportunity.
This notion of ‘invitation’ put me in mind of a teaching on the rising of Lazarus I once heard. The main point of the teaching was that while Jesus commanded Lazarus “to come forth” it was the community and not Jesus who revealed Lazarus to himself. It was they, who removed his burial clothes. In other words, it was they, who “brought forth” the essence of Lazarus in his life.
This ‘bringing forth’ is actually one of the two definitions for education “to bring forth” ‘educere’ – the other being, to make ready for society” ‘educare’. As with the community around Lazarus, we too are called to encourage (meaning “to inspire with courage”) others’ ability to say ‘yes’ to their essential giftedness – to hold up a mirror to show them their great value and worth.
Through my work in community education, I met so many people who totally transformed their lives because they were supported and encouraged to do so. Alas I also met the opposite, when genuine interest in the person was absent.
On one occasion, I met a young woman employed on a Community Employment Scheme as a cleaner. We shared an awkward cup of coffee. This young woman was introverted, extremely thin and nearly had rounded shoulders due to the weight of the jewellery she was wearing. She was the closest to Mr. T from the A-Team I ever saw.
By way of making conversation, I asked her what type of training her C.E. supervisor was encouraging her to do. To which she gave the standard answer of “compewthers”. She was also being encouraged to learn how to drive. This ‘encouragement’ was regardless of the fact that this young woman had no interest in “compewthers” nor did she have a car.
I asked her, what to me, was an obvious question: “Do you like jewellery?” WOW!
Suddenly this introverted, timid young woman was transformed.
Her eyes lit up and she told me of her dream to make her own jewellery and to open her own stall. I felt both delight and anger at the same time. Delight that she really knew her own heart and anger that those with the charge to develop her skills, failed to recognise HER.
The following two short-stories illustrate the importance of positive mirroring to enable us to give a whole-hearted ‘yes’ to our lives and how transformative it can be or indeed the opposite:
“There was a young eagle, raised by hens. One day he sees an eagle flying in the sky and he asks: “What’s that?” To which the hens replied: “That is the eagle, the most majestic bird in the entire universe”. Satisfied with this answer, the young eagle went back picking on the ground believing that he was a hen”.
The second story is about a lion that was raised by sheep. One day while following and bleating with the herd, he meets another lion who asks him: “Why are you bleating like a sheep, don’t you know you’re a lion? He promptly brings the ‘sheep- lion to the river and showed him his reflection.
The next thing, he ROARED. He never thought he was a sheep again.
So may I take the liberty of encouraging you to keep saying “YES”.