All that is given is not lost.
It is the human things that make life good, the unexpected kindness, the friendly note, the bracing word, the neighbor’s extra loaf of bread she leaves at our back door.
–Raymond J Baughan
A few years ago, I read of someone who’d been going through difficulties. Her community had been very supportive, and she wrote that she was “practicing receiving.” My first reaction was, that’s silly, we all know how to receive. Haven’t we all been taking whatever we can grab from as far back as we remember? (And if not, I want to know what kind of childhood you had!) But when I thought about it more, I realized that taking and receiving are not the same thing. We do all know how to take: the free candy someone hands us, money we find on the ground, chances and opportunities and giveaways. But receiving is different. We all know — at least I hope you all do — what it’s like to be offered a gesture or a gift that is so generous, so unexpected, and so gracious that we simply don’t know how to respond. Heartfelt expressions of generosity, unasked favors, space or companionship when we desperately need it — when we get something we really want, without having to ask for it, without being expected to pay it back in any way — that can throw us for a loop. This week I have been surrounded by great love and kindness from so many of you, and it has been my privilege to just receive it. My practice of receiving, as I am experiencing it, is to accept these gestures of love with equal love and gratitude, knowing that they are freely given, and knowing I will return them in time — if not to the givers, then to others in need. I feel so very supported, and so spiritually and emotionally rich. Thank you all for your thoughts, for your love, for your comfort.
I also find that my quiet-time practice has been standing me in good stead. It has felt very natural and instinctive to do things for myself these past few days, from home beauty treatments to listening to audiobooks to giving myself time to not see anybody or answer the phone. I think having done this self-care practice for a month, it’s been easier for me to remember to do it now. And I know how fortunate I am to be able to do it, without a boss or kids demanding my time.
Specific activities call to me now. Eating — not too much — feels really good; so does shopping (not necessarily buying), brushing my hair, and just sitting quietly. As life seems to have slowed down quite a lot, I’m comfortable with easy tasks that require patience or diligence. Yesterday I retagged all the photos in my flickr art and crafts albums; I’ve also been happy folding laundry and washing dishes. None of these has felt like a chore. I’ve been leaving more thoughtful comments on some blogs, like Hanna Non(Tana)‘s list post yesterday (found her through Sparks in Shadow — thank you, Ré!). I wonder how long I will feel like this, like I’ve found a little place outside of normal responsibilities to time and the rest of the world. I guess I wouldn’t want to live here always, but it feels nice: clear, loving, remembering what’s important. Can I hang on to those things when life starts speeding up again? I hope so.