When giving is all we have
One river gives
Its journey to the next.
We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.
We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it--
Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.
Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:
Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.
You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me
What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made
Something greater from the difference.
Lots of joy and laughter was shared, and also a few tears, as we recalled the best gifts we have given in our lives, and the best gifts we have received.
For many of us, giving comes easily and naturally. Receiving, on the other hand, can be more challenging.
Perhaps this is because giving is linked to generosity, a desired virtue.
Receiving isn’t usually seen in the same light though. Receiving is often thought of as simply getting something. It has a more ‘selfish’ connotation, which may be why many of us find it more difficult to receive, or to ask for something. We don’t want to be seen as selfish or self-serving.
I’ve come to recognise this in myself, how I can too quickly brush off offers of help, even compliments, without considering them, not allowing them to penetrate an invisible wall I’ve created. This may also be because I’m one of those people who likes to be capable and in control. So, for me, there is also a sense of vulnerability that comes with receiving or asking for help.
What gets in the way of receiving for you?
What gets in the way of giving?
We humans are complex beings, and a comfortable relationship with giving and receiving may continue to be a work-in-progress. But this is important inner work, because it offers a deepening understanding of our interdependence. Giving and receiving are at the heart of our life-giving human connection, our need for each other.
Which leads to a couple more questions …..
Can we give in a way that makes receiving easy?
Can we receive in a way that makes giving easy?
Giving and receiving are at the heart of the Circle of Trust approach, which is based on the work of writer, teacher and social activist Parker J. Palmer. In a Circle of Trust we give and receive the gift of welcome and non-judgement, we give and receive the gift of deep listening, we give and receive the gift of invitation and non-invasion, we give and receive the gift of silence and space for personal reflection and renewal.
The principles and practices we learn in a Circle of Trust can go with us into our personal and professional lives to help us grow and sustain trustworthy relationships and be more effective and resilient in the face of life's changes and challenges.
If you'd like to experience a Circle of Trust retreat, please check out my 2020 calendar of day retreats. And of course, you're welcome to contact me if you’d like to know more.
Meanwhile I send you warm wishes for a restful and renewing break over the Christmas period, for happy times with loved ones, doing the things that sustain you and bring joy to your life.