There was a time when I used to watch Oprah and she would ask her guests, “What do you know for sure?”

I was always impressed with the clarity of someone who could speak about what was true for them and how they lived their truth from day to day. I used to try to write in my journals about what I knew for sure and couldn’t come up with my own answer. I could only recite what I had been told by others about what was true: the refrain of their songs that played in my head for decades and which I sang with true belief when that was all I knew. I was guided by religion lessons of my childhood, Catholic dogma, theology and philosophy classes and hundreds of books that I read with great devotion. I was inspired to live a good life within the boundaries of a certain system.

But my personal search for truth became more authentic when I learned to listen to my own voice, my own wisdom, when I learned that the divine light within me was my best guide. This was not the decision of a moment. Sometimes we have a transformative experience that can totally turn our lives around. Most times, it’s trial and error. We live through dark nights that test every bit of knowledge and faith we have. There are also radiant moments that defy explanation. The human journey of growth eventually releases us from our childish thinking and acting, our fear of walking outside the rigid lines, and challenges us to look at life with new eyes, listen with new ears and open our hearts to life as we have never done.

The designated path is safer, of course, but it keeps us subservient to outside forces. I don’t believe we can grow as human beings if our inner life is still that of a child. The uncharted path is scarier and demands lots of trust: trust in life and trust in one’s self.

I have found that when I get to those scary places, and have no idea where to go from there, then the only way to go forward is to surrender: to stop trying to rely on my limited knowledge, to stop living in fear of what could be ahead. Saying yes to what is and not fighting it brings me to a deeper freedom. When I look through my writings, at certain places on my path, I have written songs or poems about surrendering, saying yes. This saying yes to the unknown with complete trust in a good outcome, even though we cannot see it, has guided me for many years. It has released me from the monkey-mind of thinking, the fear of not getting it right, and the anxiety that accompanies fear. A complete surrender is the ultimate release of control. It is the acknowledgement that, in reality, we know so little. The gifts that life is waiting to give us come only to open hands and open hearts that do not grasp but wait in silence. I would like to share a poem with you that expresses what I believe about surrender:

Only Silence

Why is not the question.

There is no question.

There is only an answer,

which is yes.

There is no understanding,

only acceptance.

There is no way,

no prayer or vow.

There is only silence.

From this silence will come

all the answers.

This poem comes from my new book, “Coming to the Edge: Fifty Poems for Writing and Healing.” It does not provide any answers but through prompts, based on the poems, you are asked to engage with your own truth, your own story and to work to find your own solutions. Remember, our inner wisdom is our true teacher. In one of his poems, e.e. cummings says “Yes is the only living thing.” Our “yes” can resound in the silence. Our hearts are waiting for us to sing our own tunes, our own truth, what we know for sure.

Helen Rousseau is an interfaith minister and spiritual guide. She can be reached at [email protected] or