So I had this completely amazing experience last week. A friend of a friend invited me to a retreat in British Columbia. Part of the magic of the experience is jumping into the unknown—literally–so I won’t tell you everything about it, but there were 22 of us who met in Vancouver and traveled together from there. I knew five of them before the trip, and admired and respected several others from a distance. Also, before the trip I was scared of one of them. But that’s a story for another time. There are lots of those…
It was mystical, magical, epic, transformational. It was part grown-up summer camp, part group counseling, part spiritual retreat. I’m totally in that post-camp delirium where I miss my new best pals and am driving my friends and family here totally batty with stories. One time, at the lodge…one time, on the boat…one time…you know my new best friend? One thing she said…so hilarious, right?
Confession: yesterday I cried in the Target parking lot because I just wanted to be back there, back in that place, back with those people. I know. I’m a seventh grader after a lock-in. I know.
I went on the trip because I had a sense that it would change me, and that I needed to be changed. I went on it because I suspected that this group of people had something to teach me. I couldn’t have imagined how true that would be. I went on the trip because there’s an openness to my future and I want to navigate that openness with prayer and wisdom. And this trip gave me more than I could have even imagined.
There are a hundred stories, a thousand profound moments, one million ways I could write about it. I’ll probably write a lot about it over coming months, as I learn and unravel and reframe. I want to introduce you to every person, invite you into every inside joke, share every story and song and image that has branded itself on my heart.
But let’s just start with one:
A dear friend had been on this retreat before, and he knew what I was about to experience. He sent me a text, one of the last I received before turning off my phone for several days. I asked him for advice, and this is what he said: “JUMP. SAY YES. And when the coconut shrimp comes out, be selfish.”
I passed on my friend’s advice to my new friends—he was absolutely right about the coconut shrimp, and those words became an anthem—SAY YES. SAY YES.
Say yes to jumping off a cliff. Literally. Say yes to telling the ugly beautiful raw truth about your life. Say yes to friendships that are built in an instant. Say yes to scrambling over rocks so that you can scream up into a waterfall, voices swallowed up in the roar of the water. Say yes to middle of the night conversations and jumping in with your clothes on.
And say yes to God’s whisper and yes to hope and yes to possibility. Say yes to a new future.
What I realized is that in the past couple years, I’ve built a life that requires me to say a lot of nos. I work a lot and push pretty hard and between writing and traveling and the kids, there’s not a lot left. Just to stay afloat, I have to say a lot of nos.
And that’s not how I want to live. I think maybe I got a little too efficient, a little too narrow, a little too serious. I created a busy, heavy life, and in order to carry it, I had to say a lot of nos.
But I’m not a no kind of person. That’s what this trip reminded me. That I believe in YES. That at my best, I’m the kind of person who says yes.
Again, there are a thousand pieces of this experience that I’m still unraveling, holding up to the light, scribbling about, unpacking.
But this is what I know: I’m done living a posture of NO.
Let’s say YES.