Hello, struggler, wisher, thirster-
I meet you at the well to wonder,
to ponder, and possibly to fight for
what it is to be alive.
Both of us are drinking from the same cistern.
We created it; the cracks refused to seal
and the water refused to heal our parched souls.
Goodness knows we have looked in all those cracks
for answers and heard enough echoes
to reassure us we are alone.
But what of the music that we didn’t make?
We hear it shake the ground sometimes
and we analyze the sounds that aren’t our own.
O great unknown, you sing to us
and call to us in open roads
and feather-leafed mesquite groves
and in places that are kind or bleak to us-
you are deeper than our well goes.
O Otherness beyond our echoes,
you have a voice that fills us
in the emptiness of subway halls
and other people’s flawless love.
Mend our cisterns! we cry,
and you reply,
Leave them dry. I will supply parched lips
with my munificence and drench
you in my providence.
O holy Christ, your voice is stronger
than the torrents tempting us to take
the earthy waters; human potters mold more vessels
but you call us-
like a wave: one but recurring.
Beyond words, beyond our singing
you are matchless:
to have tasted of your depth
is to know Already and Not Yet
and greater love and greater debt.
He only wants yes. And he’s willing to throw his 4-year-old weight around to hear it. He begs, he whines; he even tries to make use of logic, which is always amusing.
“I want it. I neeeeeed it.” But sometimes the answer is no. And today, when the answer was no, he groaned and said, “But that’s not being sweet!”
Oh, wait. He thinks kindness equals yes. He thinks that if I don’t give him what he wants, I’m not being nice. I’m not being courteous unless I capitulate.
He doesn’t understand yet. He doesn’t realize that a closed door directs you on to a better house. He doesn’t realize that sometimes, “no” is the nicest answer I could give. Sometimes, “no” is neither noxious nor niggardly. Sometimes, “no” is nutritious.
When he wants to watch yet another movie. When he wants to go outside alone. When he wants to eat Cheez-Its for dinner. No is nurturing.
But he doesn’t understand. And, often, neither do I. Or, rather, I forget. When God doesn’t affirm my wishes, I stand wistfully in front of locked doors and wish there was a way; neglecting to turn my head and see the welcoming lights shining from the house down the street.
I want yes. I beg, I whine; I even try to make use of logic, which must be so amusing. But sometimes the answer from on high is no. And when I hear it, I groan. I equate kindness with “yes”.
But sometimes, “no” is the kindest answer He can give. Sometimes, “no” is meant to drive me on to something noble. When He says no to one of my wishes, He’s saying yes to one of His. He’s taking the rough draft of my life and rewriting it- taking out paragraphs I thought were important and replacing them with unsuspected plot twists and adventures that jump out at me from behind. He’s replacing all of me with Himself.
And it means that sometimes I find myself yanking on a locked door like a disappointed child.
But I cannot beg, whine, or reason myself out of the fact that kindness does not equal yes.
Affirmation does not lead to affluence.
And sometimes, nothing is more nourishing than “no”.