The holy “no.”

(Photo taken at the Church of the Visitation, Ein Kerem, Israel.)

(Photo taken at the Church of the Visitation, Ein Kerem, Israel.)

As we journey this last week toward Christmas, we celebrate the young girl Mary, who without respect to personal cost, said “yes” to the invitation to become the mother of Jesus.  “Let it be with me according to your word (Luke 1:38).”

This “yes” is a good thing.  We are enthralled by the might and power of this event.  If we are blessed enough to sense our own deep hunger that is the voice of God calling us, we can be drawn into a lifetime of asking the question: “To what is God calling me?”  We open ourselves to the grace of the Holy Spirit and pray for the courage to say “yes.”

But what about “no?”  Or, more specifically, what my spiritual director calls The Holy No?  I am not speaking about saying “no” to God but rather about saying “no” to some of the many things that call us into action or engagement in the busy, cacophony of this world.  I am coming to realize that this Holy No is a spiritual discipline about which I know little.  I am finding I need more time.  But not more time so that more activity or projects can be birthed.  I need more time for quiet and prayer.  More time and space to discern those instances when I need to politely yet firmly say “no,” or at the very least “not now.”

This year, when Christmas Eve arrives, when I sing that familiar hymn, I think it will take on a new meaning for me as we welcome in that silent night, that holy night, and with it the promise of heavenly peace.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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3 Responses to The holy “no.”

  1. Betsy Free says:

    saying “NO” is difficult for lots of us. I have never attached the word “holy” to NO, but I think that is exactly right…usually for some of us saying no to a request comes after much prayer and consideration….thanks for the reminder….

  2. Tim Lynch says:

    Wonderfully beautiful and MOST appropriate!!!!

    Tim

  3. Reblogged this on walkingwithclare and commented:

    This entry is worth revisiting as I grow into the discipline of saying “no” to invitations and requests I would love to accept.

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