This I Believe

Thea - Manlius, New York
Entered on July 3, 2006
Age Group: 65+
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This I Believe: say “yes” and “thank you.”

Saying “Yes” and “Thank you” gets me out of bed in the morning and lets me go to sleep at night. I don’t know what I’m saying “Yes” to and “Thank you” for, but my day and my night seem to go better when I do. This I believe.

“Yes” and “Thank you” were the earliest pragmatic words I learned. “Yes” or “Yes, please” got me the cookie and “Thank you” got me a pat on the head. At the same time I learned to say “No” and “Why me?” to what I didn’t like and didn’t want.

When I was grown I read that the Desert Fathers said that the only words needed in prayer were “Yes” and “Thank you.” I liked that , so lovely, so simple. It took many years to learn that these words were simple to say, but not simple to do.

The DOING means saying “Yes” to whatever comes my way – joy, sorrow, abundance, loss, fun, misery, war, peace, fulfilment, disappointment. The DOING means saying “Thank you” for all the positives as well as all the negatives.

That’s crazy. That’s impossible.

It may be crazy, but it’s not impossible. Saying “Yes” is an option. “No” is an option.

Saying “Yes” to loss, particularly the loss of my son, took me a very long time. The thought of saying “Thank you” infuriated me. When I finally started to say those simple words, falteringly, something inside of me felt as if it was breaking or cracking like a hard shell. The more I said: “Yes,” the more the tears flowed. Gradually, I felt a sense of peace and I could smile. I felt his presence flowing through me.

That was a big “Yes.” But every day I make so many knee jerk “No” responses. When I become aware of what I’m doing, I try to say “Yes.”It still isn’t easy or simple. For me the day to day “Yes and “Thank you” is A WAY —A PATH —that I believe helps me be a better person.

Voltaire said: “God is a comedian playing to an audience that is afraid to laugh.” When I’m saying “Yes” and “Thank you” I laugh more, breathe more easily. I’m more alive.

Tony De Mello said: “Enlightenment is when your anger no longer makes you angry; when your depression no longer depresses you; when your sadness no long saddens you; when your fear no longer makes you fearful.”

I thought De Mello’s beliefs were crazy, impossible. I was wrong. I realized that what De Mello was saying was the same thing the Desert Fathers said centuries ago.

When I say “Yes” to loneliness it seems to me that the loneliness transforms itself into peaceful, joyful, solitude.

I live in beauty. Beauty surrounds me, but I don’t always see it even though it’s always there. I can only see it when I say: “ Yes and Thank you”……….not only with words, but with my whole body and soul.