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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, August 5

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
—Genesis 1:31

In the ancient language of the Celts, there wasn’t a word for “no.” Sure there were ways to state something in the negative, but the actual word itself did not exist.

There is a deep theological point to this absence. If there is a bedrock principle behind the Irish people, it is found in their honoring of the earth. Just as God declared that the earth and all that was in it was good, so the Irish have understood the gift of God’s creation.

In everything—the field with too many rocks, the cliffs, the harsh weather, the difficulty of life—there is a profound goodness to what God has given. And to use a word that means “no,” a word that can be applied across the board without regard to what it is modifying, would be a slap in the face of such an understanding. People, places, things are all to be valued, for they are good.

Imagine what life would be like if the word “no” were taken away. To state something negatively, you’d have to consider the thing itself. You couldn’t discount things as quickly, merely applying the one, do-it-all word. You’d have to consider the consequences of putting something down, for to do so would be calling into question the created goodness of God’s earth, and thus, the goodness of God.

In a world full of “no’s,” perhaps we should reconsider the Celtic contribution. Today, as you go about your tasks, notice how often you use the word “no.” What does it say when you use it? Is it shorthand for hurting someone, cutting something apart, or discounting the goodness of God’s creation? 

Try giving up “no” for a day. See what it’s like if you have to rephrase, finding a way to honor the person, place or thing you must use in the negative.

You’ll be amazed. I hope you discover that people, places, and things are good. And again, I hope you discover that God is good—that no is hardly a part of God’s vocabulary.

Show me a path to honor all of your creation today God. Open me to the wisdom of the Celts from centuries before me and help me to know the value of every thing that I encounter along the journey. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.