Saturday, April 05, 2008

Banging on the Doors of "No"

Back in Minneapolis I belonged to an incredible church called St. Joan of Arc. More weeks than not, the homily was given by a guest, someone with a story to tell or a point to make. Through the years, we heard from a fitter of prosthetic limbs in SouthEast Asia, an aboriginal shaman, a suburban park ranger, and three women from a ravaged area of the West Bank. A Hawaiian man once danced a prayer through the aisles. That church and its people taught me much about life and love and peace.

One particular homily has been echoing through my head over the last few days. I don't remember who the woman was or what brought her to St Joans, but she spoke about doors of opportunity. She talked about how the doors of yes open easily, while the doors of no remain closed and locked no matter what we do.

She wasn't advocating a lack of persistence. Her point was that we often struggle to open closed doors while ignoring doors open to welcome us. I know she's right. Personally and professionally, I've beat on the closed doors of no til my hands and my heart bled, too stubborn to turn to a yes right beside me.

But then there's Jack Canfield, whose first Chicken Soup book was rejected by 140 publishers before it found a home. His agent gave up, but not Jack. He kept pounding until he found the yes. A few years later, he landed in The Guinness Book of World Records for having the most books (7) on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time.

So how do you tell the difference between wasting your time and working your way through the shit to find the pony?

Maybe, just maybe, the answer is not to worry about which it is. Maybe the trick is to fill my life with fulfilling work and fun and keep trying those doors. Keep knocking, keep sliding letters under the edges, keep hanging flowers on the knobs. Maybe when I least expect it, a door will open and I'll fall into yes.


kario said...

Wow - thank you so much for this, Jerri! What a terrific perspective. Methinks St. Joan's needs to invite you back to be a guest speaker someday soon.


Doubting Thomas said...

Hard to know what to say to this, my friend. It's beautifully written, but also a little sad.

I hope your goals get realized, because nobody deserves it more. But take some joy in the knocking, the sliding of letters, the hanging of the flowers. There's an instinct in me that whispers the yes is in those things.

grammer said...

I have always believed in going through the open door. When a thing comes easy, I roll with it. Resistance is bruise-making. Know when it's time to stop beating your head against the door, is what I say to myself.

Yet I've also stopped pounding on seemingly impossible doors only to find that all those little impacts had nearly broken the lock. And in that case, a gentle breeze was enough to open a once-stubborn door.

You've done the work. Doors that you can't see may already be opening. Now allow for the miracle! xo tg

Go Mama said...

All I can add is when it's right, it's effortless, and when it's not, it doesn't work despite persistence.

To complicate things further, there's also that lag in between Not Ready (time for growth, time for all elements to get into place) and Right Time.

Such a beautiful, frustrating, magnificent Rubik's Cube dance. Enjoy it, love it, drink merrily!

You are so full of love and light. You have everything you need. Trust this.

Amber said...

Oh, I think this is something we all wonder about. I also beat beat beat...and then I also sometimes just know when to stop, and not feel bad about it. It is the not knowing where the Yes door is that makes me a little crazy.

I also think sometimes it is not the door, but the timing. Maybe the door will open when the time is right. So it is good to go back and check it now and then. I actually think very often, this is the case. At least it has been for me. ;)


Deb said...

Your wisdom shines through so clearly here! I think the trick is gentle persistence - not bloodying pounding. You listen to your heart and follow where it leads.

That church sounds amazing! When they do invite you to speak, save front pews for Kari and I.

Much love to you.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I love this and I love all the comments. As you know, I've been wrestling with this dilemma myself, being wise versus being stubbornly persistent. I'm personally going to start listening to my feelings, and when something feels wrong, I'm going to TRY to stop banging on the door anyway, and when something feels right? I'm going to trust that feeling, knock gently, and align myself accordingly while I "wait." That's the plan. Don't laugh.

Jess said...

Love this post, love the comments. Such a universal question.

I was going to tell you who I agree with here, but it's everyone. You have some wise friends.

I agree, listen, pay attention, trust.

Terry Whitaker said...

Beautifully thoughtful and telling.