YES! Repeat the word enough times, and lives can shift. Not just any yes will do, of course. For change to happen, the yes has to be a wholehearted move in the direction of love, life, compassion, courage, acceptance. It needs to be a yes that is life-affirming, peace-bringing, heart-opening.
That is how Carlos Whittaker said YES! back in 2009 when he sat down in a windy parking lot in Atlanta, Georgia to make a music video of his song, “God of Second Chances.” He was barely into the song when a homeless man named Danny knelt down beside him and joined in perfect harmony.
Jamaican roots were strong in the patois and rhythm of the homeless singer. Love was strong in Whittaker’s response. On his Web site, Ragamuffin Soul, Whittaker described their exchange as the song ended:
If you listen carefully at the end you hear me saying this to Danny.
‘Keep trying to make it man.’
He looked me square in the eye…cocked his head sideways with a confused look on his face…and said,
‘Trying to make it? No man. I ain’t trying to make it…I’m making it. Jah puts His soldiers everywhere. Jay says, Yea though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death…So He places some of us, in that valley.’
The two men talked for a half hour after singing together. Danny gave Carlos his cell phone number, and they said goodbye. The number never worked.
Carlos has never found Danny again, though he always looks for him when he is in Atlanta. He says on his blog, “It would be a dream to reunite with Danny and tell him how much his voice has changed so many lives.”
That may never happen. Meeting Danny may remain one of those shining moments that mark us forever. But in this case the moment has marked the millions of people who have viewed the video, heard Carlos Whittaker speak about it or read it in his book, Moment Maker. Few moments have that kind of power, but more of them do when we say YES!
Thanks to Virginia Sauve for the link to the video.