Rebecca of Gratitude Practices has chosen a new focus word for 2010. It is embrace. But it is her 2009 word that arrests me: Receive.
For generations, the women in my family, especially, and to a lesser extent the men, have been adjured as children through adulthood to give up whatever we might have so another might benefit more. Always take the smallest cookie, the smallest piece of meat on the plate. If another child wanted the toy we were using, give it up without a whimper. The constant reminder: "Tis better to give than to receive."
As the oldest child, I was expected to give up most and most often. Truth be told, I did. I wanted to please my parents, first of all, and I hated the beatings. Nothing unusual for the times, they were harsh nevertheless.
Give way. Don't cling to possessions, feelings or to strong views for that matter. Strong opinions are unladylike and cause others discomfort. My father, who seemed to think of me as a "wild child," frequently told me it was his duty to break my spirit, in hope, apparently, that I might one day become a better person.
If you are a regular reader, you've probably noticed by now that I never gave up strong opinions, and my spirit remains unbroken, though it has bent and rebounded aplenty. I did try very hard to be a giving, unselfish child, and later adult. I still give way. A lot. It takes tremendous will and energy to take a stand and stick to it. Who am I, after all, to assert my will in the face of another?
So when I saw Rebecca's 2009 word of the year, receive, I had a visible, palpable, physical reaction. I lurched a bit in my seat. My mouth popped open. My heart beat faster. Of course, I heard my mother's mantra : Don't be selfish.
Then I smiled. For the year 2010, I open myself to receive.
Just typing the words, my chest expands. I take a deep breath. Wow. I open myself to receive right livelihood that includes working with progressive, socially responsible, competent, friendly, emotionally healthy, smart people who love to laugh, but never at the expense of another. I open to receive a greener, more sustainable home with a washer and dryer in the apartment, not three floors down, or (dreaming really big), I open to receive a fully sustainable home, with a yard big enough for a clothesline and no need for a dryer, and the beginnings of the Village of Ordinary all around us. I open to receive time and energy with my family and to continue my work with Ordinary. I open to receive a strong, supportive community for my work developing Ordinary and making peace. I may be so bold as to say I open to receive lasting peace on Earth, and an end to human-on-human, human-on-animal, and human-on-planet violence.
Who knows what else awaits that my mind has yet to conceive?
Thank you, Rebecca, for opening my eyes to the possibilities.
Update: I had not yet posted this draft when I found myself in the emergency room experiencing chest pain and weakness. Within twenty-four hours a cardiologist sat on my bed, told me I was sick and, according to the numerous EKGs taken over several hours, had blocked arteries. He ordered an angiogram and cautioned that he expected they would do an angioplasty and possibly insert stents to keep my arteries open. He suggested the possibility of bypass surgery.
An hour later, another doctor snaked a tube from my groin to my heart and was baffled, happily so, to discover my arteries were clean and my heart healthy. YAHOO! I remember, in my sedated state, when I could not rouse enough to speak, attempting clumsily to form a circle okay with my thumb and fingers as the doc leaned down to give me the news. I hope I didn't inadvertently flash a much less happy sign before I passed once more into drugged oblivion.
Later, the cardiologist returned to my room and I received the grand good news that I have the arteries of a woman half my age, and a strong, healthy heart, all four chambers, despite the (organic) butter and (organic, "cage-free") eggs I so lavishly enjoy. So, tests and more tests. Before I left the hospital, the technicians used every possible vein in both arms, and I received ever more good news. My thyroid is healthy; my cholesterol is in the good range all round; my vital signs are strong and healthy. We're still waiting results on one more test, and if it comes back negative, then the docs will explore a host of other possibilities for the events they recorded and witnessed those two days.
One week later, having received tender and thorough care from an army of doctors, nurses, technicians, and orderlies, followed by a couple of days rest at home with my sweetheart, I am buoyant with all the good in my life.
What's more, my family is strong and delightfully nurturing. In just a few days I have received so much. I give gratitude for good health, good fortune, excellent professionals and caregivers, thousands of warm smiles and gentle touches, fresh air, gentle rain, and the sweetest helpmeet who ever walked the face of the earth.
Now that's putting the spirit of the word receive to good use already, wouldn't you say? May each of you reading this, wherever you are, whenever you happen across this page, be so blessed.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.