Saying Yes

In The Sun magazine’s January issue, a volunteer at a Catholic Worker house reflected on the topic of “Saying Yes”:

Our community includes homeless adults who drop by for food, clothing, and human contact. It’s our policy to say yes to their requests:
Yes, you can look through the clothes closet for some pants.
Yes, I’ll get you some groceries.
Yes, we can talk. What’s up?

I’ve also ended up tacitly saying yes in many situations that no one had prepared me for:
Yes, you can talk to me nonstop for three hours about your sexual liaisons.
Yes, you can get high in our bathroom.
Yes, I’ll get up at 3 a.m. to answer the door because you called 911 when you thought the crumpled banner on the floor was a dead body.
Yes, you can smoke the Frosted Mini-Wheats.

I’m learning how to remain hospitable in such situations and how to say yes to tolerance, patience, and forgiveness.

The volunteer’s discipline reminds me of the Believing Game, one in a pair of intellectual practices recommended by writing teacher Peter Elbow. He argues that we need both the Believing and the Doubting games to help us pick our way through an uncertain world… (more at Crosscut)

More Andy Welsh photos at

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