Tag Archives: giving

Meeting the moment 2021 #46

While having some acupuncture treatment this week I asked what a couple of extra needles were for and was told just to keep up your amazing-ness. While I laughed the placebo effect of those words still makes me smile, something to help with your general everyday amazingness sounds pretty good to me!  We are all amazing and to celebrate and support that in one another is the act of beautiful witness. Goes beyond the general everyday act of witness, to see beyond surviving to thriving, beyond grief to see seeds of resurrection, to see beyond happiness to bountiful joy.  Noticing the deeply embedded kernels inside all of us being coaxed out by witnesses and our ability to be witnessed is mutuality whole hearted.

When the  winds of discomfort are blowing and you are being bustled along like the proverbial tumbleweed in a desert, tossed around and repeating endless circles, getting to a destination that is scenically not any different to where you started – even that can be celebrated as letting go – enabling the elements to hold you until you are able, ready or perhaps better equipped to unravel into something new.

This week, noticing how I witness and am witnessed, is a litany of generosity: the holding, with such gentle kindness, of a chicken for her wings to be clipped, a photo of a calm sea being sent to a friend who is unsettled after missing out on getting an opportunity to move to another job, skipping down a corridor in a silent celebration of news of a friend getting a new job which means her life will change, meandering into a conversation about music and being heard, quietly sitting to listen to a favourite poet with favourite friends, receiving a caution instead of a fine and demerit points for travelling too fast along the road close to home, to hear myself into speech as I was being interviewed for a podcast, to sit in conversation with a lake while waiting to eavesdrop on a regional community, to delight and press send on a contribution to regenerative farmers, walking through a school that will soon be community to 400 families and feeling the excitement and anticipation of the midwifes. There is so much generosity inside us to give and even more to receive. This is the currency of exchange that fills my wellbeing bank and not the least the act of being generous with ourselves.

David Whyte writes:  Every transformation has at its heart the need to ask for the right kind of generosity. The currency of exchange happens in the act of giving and fills my wellbeing bank, and every act of receiving does not make a withdrawal, it feels more like compound interest. I think the prescription for feeling lost or abandoned is to invite yourself into generosity, gift your time, your talents, your energy to another, to a cause, to the environment.  When I worked as CEO for Volunteering SA & NT we would always be noticing how quickly people improved their mental and physical health, their sense of belonging and improved their skills once they started volunteering. Going beyond yourself has medicinal properties and helps to create the everyday general amazingness in each other. This is the never ending reminder to me of the call and response, in the last line of this poem by Whyte, to find a way to die of generosity, is to live from the abundance you have inside of you.

MY COURAGEOUS LIFE

has gone ahead

and is looking back

calling me on.

My courageous life

has seen everything

I have been

and everything

I have not

and has

forgiven me,

day after day.

My courageous life

still wants

my company:

wants me to

understand

my life as witness

and thus

bequeath me

the way ahead.

My courageous life

has the patience

to keep teaching me,

how to invent

my own

disappearance,

and how

once gone,

to reappear again.

My courageous life

wants to stop

being ahead of me

so that it can lie

down and rest

deep inside the body

it has been

calling on.

My courageous life

wants to be

my foundation,

showing me

day after day

even against my will

how to undo myself,

how to surpass myself,

how to laugh as I go

in the face

of danger,

how to invite

the right kind

of perilous

love,

how to find

a way

to die

of generosity.

My Courageous Life

A new adaption of ‘Second Life’

in Pilgrim

Poems by David Whyte

© Many Rivers Press and David Whyte

Photo by cyrus gomez on Unsplash

Sparks will fly #3 #taking

Riffing off a conversation during the week about the difference between giving and receiving and giving and taking has set some sparks flying.  I am pretty good at giving and I am getting better at receiving but the idea of taking that is foreign territory. What does it mean to take?  Literally to grab something with both hands, yank it into your life, pull it towards you feels a little violent and perhaps even greedy or entitled … but what if it was about showing up, leaving nothing to chance, proactively and decisively making a claim? I think I am out of practice at taking a trick. We played a lot of cards and board games when I was growing up but no so much in recent times.  I steered away from competitive activities and have somehow aligned taking with competition – if I have something then someone else doesn’t.  This is not true.  That is a scarcity mentality and that doesn’t line up with my usual approach to life around abundance.

Taking and giving are not mutually exclusive. I can take a photograph and enhance the beauty of what is there and see something new and give that to others. I can take a position and advocate to be more inclusive which opens up, not closes down possibilities. I can take what I imagine is potentially mine and that need not be taking from another or from someone else’s future. There is intentionality in taking that feels quite different to the humility of receiving.  This is sparking me up to consider what might I like to take from this time?  What might I want to manifest, grab with both hands … make happen, instead of passively let happen?  Alert: No children will be harmed in the making of taking.

With the death of Mary Oliver this week I have been reflecting on her legacy to future generations and how even a tiny spark of her talent has held me many times. She took from the natural world and shared her insights. She absorbed, at a cellular level the lessons of all things elemental. While we received, she did take, and knead and hold and filter and fuse. I am sure she would have seen her taking as necessary for her to give.  In fact her instruction is quiet clear in her famous One Summer Day poem meditating on the grasshopper – what is your plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  Embedded in that line is a confirmation and imprimatur, to be wild, accept your life as uniquely precious and irreplaceable, unable to be replicated as each day, each moment to be spent by only you and the way to you spend it. Making a plan includes giving, receiving and taking. Paying attention to falling down, kneeling, rolling in the grass, gazing around, floating away – these are all instructions from the school of life and living includes pushing through pain barriers in dark days, unfurling wings while they are still wet, moving the jaws up and down, ruminating, chewing through things hard to swallow, being nourished and fed in the process.  I don’t know what a prayer is either, but the spark to consider taking as well as receiving and not making anyone else the poorer, weaker or losing in the process that may also make be richer, stronger and a winner along the way is worth considering … and even a bit of planning.  Here’s to the summer day!

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

by Mary Oliver

chris-galbraith-784551-unsplash

Photo by Chris Galbraith on Unsplash

ps To hear or read an interview with Mary Oliver and Krista Tippett from On Being click here.