Rewriting Old Stories ~ The Gift of Receiving
By Maria Kornacki, CCSS Collective Member
Once upon a time we knew, as a collective people, that we are profoundly loveable, deeply loved, and blessedly beloved. We knew that no one matters any more than any other one and that no thing matters any less than any other thing. Once upon a time we knew how to receive this gift of a miraculous and loving way, with a full heart.
Then came the story of the apple.
We took a bite of the proffered apple from the life giving tree of knowledge and love and we called it a sin. We continued to call it a sin for many centuries, banishing ourselves into exile. We forgot the gift of the garden, the gift of our own loving hearts, and the act of receiving well. Yes, we forgot about the gift of the garden. The act of receiving well became strangely obsolete. We called it a sin.
All around us Eden is calling out its beauty. All around us Eden stays steady with its faithful presence. The garden never died. We have simply, as a culture, impacted the knowledge of how to receive this Eden into our hearts. And so sometimes it seems that we have lost the ability to receive, into our own hearts, our own love for the beauty of the world. Sometimes it seems that we have lost touch with the dynamic of acceptance into the huge bosomed heart of our own tenderness?
We are very good at many things. We are competent and able and smart in our ability to do many things. We spend much time anguishing over how to make our mark in a true fashion. We become involved in courses, we seek gurus, we try very hard to do our best. We do this well. We make ourselves ill from the trying. It matters so much to get it right. We offer our love with generosity and attentive intention.
Meanwhile, the Garden of Eden is calling to us to receive the gift of its beauty into our hearts. We pause in our busy-ness to acknowledge a moment of awareness, a snippet of peaceful sight. “Ah! You are so beautiful”, we say. “I offer gratitude, I honour you”. The words float into the heart of a tree, into a wave on the ocean, into the ground beneath our feet. We are received with a generosity of spirit that reaches into a well of emotion within us. We are moved by how well we are received.
As for me, I am no different from anyone else. I have been raised on the stories of my culture and absorbed them deep within my psyche. I offer my love, my effort, with a deep faith in the value of this kind of awareness. Yet somehow I cannot maintain a peaceful heart, nor can I contain an ease of spirit, no matter how much I try. Something seems always to be missing, as if I can never get it “right” !
One day, I dream that it is all over and I arrive at the pearly gates. I hear a voice from the universe, speaking ever so softly and lovingly:
“I gave you so much, how is it that you had so much trouble noticing? Why is it that you thought you had to try so hard? How come you didn’t notice the feast already laid for you, simply waiting to be received?”
Then it is as if my heart will break. I weep for the simplicity of this innocent message. To be given a gift to cherish and to be able to receive it into the tender centre of my own heart. What does it mean to receive in this way? To truly open my hands, my heart, to this bouquet that has been picked with such care and offered to me. And what does it mean to ignore the bouquet that is placed into my hands, picked for me with tender affection?
So often, I wonder: What the hell exactly is it you are doing with your life, Maria? And here is the kind and gentle answer.
“Spend your life opening your heart to receive the many gifts that have been woven together for you. All you need do is to “receive”, with gratitude and love and attention, this life that is yours to live. The gift of receiving this is the greatest gift you can offer.”
The gift of receiving this is the greatest gift you can offer.
These words leave an indelible mark in my heart. I breathe deeply, from this permission to receive. I breathe as if taking a draught from a deep well of permission and acceptance. The breath of receiving air into my lungs becomes the breath of receiving the precious gift of this, my life, into my heart. After the deep in-breath comes an equally fulsome out-breath. The out-breath is directed into the back of the heart. I don’t know why. This is simply where the act of receiving well is directed.
As I breathe out, releasing the breath of life into the back of my heart, it’s as if the heart expands backwards, outwards, beyond the bounds of my lungs, my body. I do this again and again, receiving, receiving, receiving, this miraculous gift of my own precious life, encapsulated in the magical gift of life sustaining air, a harvest of synthesis, oxygen for my blood. Oxygen for my dreams.
With each out-breath, carrying this act of receiving into the back of my heart, there is a spacious expansion into the space beyond my own finite limits. My back opens into massive wings, which wrap themselves around me, offering comfort, offering sanctuary.
The wings then open, as wings are wont to do. They open wide, ready for flight. I will leave you to imagine this flight on wings of peace.
And so I practice receiving. It is a skill that takes much practice to develop. I continue to explore the extraordinary discovery that receiving is the greatest gift that I can offer to the giver of life, to the spirit of creation, to the mysterious voice at the pearly gates. It is also the greatest gift I can offer a sister, a child, a friend. And it is the greatest gift I can offer myself. To receive my own gifts into my own heart before I offer them to another.
This is what I discover. The gift of receiving well simplifies the gift of giving with ease. Once I have received into my own heart, the gifts that I intend to offer to others, there is no concern about how the gift will be received by another. It has already been well received into my own heart and now it is free. It has been received by the spirit of receiving. Now I am less impacted by the way my child, my friend, or my community, receives my gifts, my love, or my good intentions. I am released from “working at” finding a place for my gifts. I am less preoccupied with their purpose. I am freed from worry about whether I’ve done the job right. The minute I find myself anxious about what I am doing, I know that I have forgotten to receive. Oh, it does take much practice.
So I search for my way back to the garden. I open my eyes again to Eden all around me and breathe my love, my gratitude, with each breath, into the back of my heart, receiving even the love I have been given as the enormous gift that it is – accepting it into the huge bosomed heart of my own tenderness. I have exchanges with the mysteries of the unknown, with the wind and with the spirits of nature, affirming the receiving of this garden, the proffered bouquet and this feast, into my heart.
I start to understand that my deep, uncontrollable love for my children is also a gift to myself, to be received into my own heart. It is a gift I offer to them and also, very importantly, it is a gift I receive into myself. This extraordinary gift of love is aroused in me with no effort, of course, because my children are the greatest miracle in my life. I recognize that the love that I feel for my children, for my husband, for sister, friend, for the Circle, is also a gift for my own heart, a gift for my heart to receive with tender recognition. I breathe it ever so deeply into my lungs and release it into the back of my heart with the out-breath. Again and again I do this, until I am fully experiencing the gentle sensation of receiving. The tenderness in my muscles softens to the point where I am a child held in the arms of the Lap Goddess, her embrace enfolding my entire being. I am the child held in the arms of the grandmother and I am the grandmother taking the child into my arms.
That’s it then, isn’t it? What is it I am doing? I am holding innocence in my arms. I am holding a babe, an innocent new life, close to my heart, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of my tender arms. This is the receiving blanket. I am rocking rhythmically, singing lullabies, whispering sweet affection. When there is a baby in my arms, where is the need to get busy? This is the time to be perfectly still, receiving this sweetness and tender softness. This is the time to come back to the garden. To taste the exquisite juicy flavour of the first apple ever tasted. To receive the miracle of the greatest love ever given.
In this garden we remember that each of us is loved in the same way. No one matters any more than any other one and no thing matters any less than any other thing.
The way of the garden is also the way of the circle, bringing us back to where the apple is a gift to be received with grace, where the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine walk in unity and knowledge, where the labour of birth is a labour of love, where the labour of man is a labour of truth, where the human heart is a healing hearth.
In this garden, we remember that we are profoundly loveable, deeply loved, and blessedly beloved, each and every one of us. We receive this knowledge with each bite of that amazing apple.
Bring your mind’s focus into your heart. Breathe into your heart, feeling your heart open more with each breath, creating space for receiving.
Ask your opened heart:
* What am I gifting to others that nurtures my own heart? What would it be like to fully receive these gifts within my own heart before I gift them to others?
* Are there areas of my life, or, relationships where I feel my gifts are unreceived and unappreciated? How is this awareness inviting me to expand the receiving of these gifts into my own heart?