The poet Mark Nepo says that on the surface of things, giving and receiving are about exchanges: “You need. I give. You feel grateful. I feel good about myself. You feel indebted. You give back. We take turns. But below the surface of things, giving and receiving become indistinguishable, and the goal is not to move things from one person to another, but to keep the gift of life flowing.” Now there is a difference between receiving and taking, he says. “When receiving tightens into taking and hoarding, the flow of life becomes stagnant and toxic, and we become repositories instead of conduits.”
Part of our spiritual work is to develop the capacity to be conduits. To receive and then transmit the gift of life that has been given to us. I love this image, but honestly, I find the receiving part of the process very difficult. Isn’t it more blessed to give than to receive?
Our culture tells us that we are more valuable if we are the giver. We feel more and more worthy as we care for family members, friends, or those who are oppressed. In our society, receiving is actually risky because it requires vulnerability.
One time I was getting coffee with a friend. She offered to pay, and I said, “Oh no, let me get it.” She replied, “You need to turn on your receiver.” I’ll never forget it, and it really made me think about how often I close off my own conduit by refusing to receive.
I am feeling like our country is (still) full of uncertainty and anxiety, and now is the time for us to “turn on our receivers” so we can be nourished and supported. I invite you to notice when someone is offering you love, support, or even coffee. Take it in, and simply say, “thank you.”
From you I receive so much love! Thank you.