This week I was asked a number of times if I enjoyed my party and the answer was a resounding yes. One of the things I have had to learn this year is to receive. I have been so unable to do so much so often, reception is what has been left. Bereft and broken, alone and fumbling around I have had to put down my arrogance and fear and be waited on more than once. Vulnerability and humiliation paired up to remind me I am human. While I invite others to be together, to find the good in one another, to celebrate and extend generosity – I haven’t been so good at doing that for myself. Hence this year of Self-Compassion. I still have my L plates on, but as a wise woman said to me this week – L plates is a good place to start. And starting I am, and learning I am, and practicing I am.
Learning to receive is a practice all of its own. I think the key is the practice …. like any discipline. I was looking up the history of the word receive and it is declining in its use over of the past two hundred years or so. It has Middle English and Anglo-Norman origins from back and take. I think there is a clue in here for me to think about receiving as giving back. In receiving you are giving back, by acknowledging the gift and honouring the giver. It seems to hold a promise and potential too. By receiving you are moving a relationship forward, taking another step in trust towards deeper intimacy.
Another clue to the power of receiving, is the opposite, the betrayal of a gift being rejected. Having spent yourself and given with joy, to have that thrown back at you is a hurt that creates a hole which is often hard to be re-filled. You are greeting the good in the other when you receive as they give witness to the good in you.
It is not always easy to receive and so I am growing my reception muscles and my birthday has helped me in that fitness quest. Inviting other to give to me so I can receive is quite a big step. To receive random acts of kindness is a whole other level and to be impacted by a stranger or an invisible human seems to always connect me to the cosmic energy of the goodness in the Universe. Universal love is made visible in those random acts.
And then there is the receiving of what is around us everyday – the big blue sky, the pleasure of a cup of tea, the blossom on the trees, the little ants going about their business underfoot, the magpies calling me to the day and the majesty of the grey box tree offering spiritual direction from broken branches, peeling bark and a precarious nest being held halfway to the sky protected from the elements and predators.
Receiving is an art and craft. I find myself bowing to the giver so often, to recognise what they have done in their lives to make the gift and the cost that has been. The act of receiving is only possible because someone else has eeked out time for me, found and prioritised resources, knowing me well enough to match their giving to what my needs are. This is call and response. And I know the giver receives as well, I know this better because I am good at giving, and learning to receive is what is opening up … and I like it! And may you too be blessed with good friends as John O’Donohue writes in this blessing from The Space Between Us and find your visible and invisible soul friends in many you meet on the road.
Blessing for Friendship
May you be blessed with good friends,
And learn to be a good friend to yourself,
Journeying to that place in your soul where
There is love, warmth, and feeling.
May this change you.
May it transfigure what is negative, distant,
Or cold within your heart.
May you be brought into real passion, kindness,
May you treasure your friends,
May you be good to them, be there for them
And receive all the challenges, truth, and light you need.
May you never be isolated but know the embrace
Of your anam cara.