The body is a great teacher. If we pay attention, we can witness the ways in which we were divinely made to receive and to let go. Revealed ever and always in the constant stream of breath, our body, without any conscious effort from us, makes space to allow the breath to inhabit it, and then releases the breath, leaving space for the next breath to arrive. In our conscious awareness of the breath, we are made more spacious–mentally and physically. As we receive the breath, watching the ways our bodies open to this gift, we can encourage our body to become more receptive and open, softening muscles and attention to that coming in. As we watch the breath go, we again can watch our own capacity for even more receptivity and softness, revealing the spaciousness within mind and body that grows in the quiet empty spaces waiting within to accept the next breath, and the next, for as long as we live. And so, this awareness then allows us to become active participants in the gift of receiving, a gift which allows us to connect with the endless circle of life and creation itself.
As this year ends, I am receiving the wisdom offered at my local church on this very thing. In this season, as so many preparations are made for holidays and celebrations, often it is the giving I focus on, rather than receiving. It is the very act of receiving, though, that allows me to connect to the heart of another. As important to remember is that it is the act of letting go that makes room for a new gift, just as a new breath, to be received.
If I’d known what this year 2019 would unfold into, much of it I’d have chosen in advance to skip. I wouldn’t have chosen to receive so much of what came. Yet, looking back, it was when I, too tired and broken to do anything but receive, felt the miracle of endless love and abundant light fill me. Perhaps I had let go for a time of any expectation whatsoever and there was room for unconscious receptivity to fill the spaces in me that felt empty. I don’t know exactly, but I do know 2019 again and again woke me up to receiving and to letting go–and the spacious awareness that comes from each.
The lessons I’m hearing in my local church have mirrored my own contemplation and understanding–the understanding that we can choose spacious receiving and in doing so, we show our gratitude for all creation. Some of these lessons come from Fred Rogers, a man who’s tireless philosophy of embodying kindness and receptivity to all was one I heard daily. He wrote, “I see that people who are not the fancy people in this world, are the ones who seem to nourish my soul and I want to learn how to be the best receiver I can ever be. Because I think graceful receiving is one of the most wonderful gifts we can give anybody.”
So as we end this year, I am calling myself toward active receptivity, the way that I become actively conscious of the breath and body made receptive, spacious, and new by allowing in and by letting go, equally. In order to prepare the way for any great birth, i.e. the miracle that comes in renewal or in the recognition of the ever circular pattern that brings us to endings and beginnings, we must clear the way to receive. The breath creates a pathway for this all day, every day–a pathway I can simply let be or I can pay attention to and actively watch unfold. Maybe the art of ending the year and starting anew in 2020, a new year and new decade, is in the art of doing both these things–actively notice the pathway carved into my heart, body, and mind by all that unfolded without my control in 2019, while making space to both receive the gift of all that was created this year and equally releasing that which can not stay in. For the next breath will come even if I try to refuse it. So, too, will the next yea with all that it will ask of me to receive. I can choose to try to hold still, take no more in, grip myself in fear, denial, refusal to let go and move forward–or I can stubborn choose receptivity, which always requires a kind of letting go. My friend and local teacher Ethel Hornbeck wrote of her time in Puerto Rico and the art of receiving she grew to understand through the eyes of a restaurant owner who’d lost everything in the hurricane. After a lovely meal in the tiny 3 table space he’s rebuilding into, this chef said to Ethel, “I’d rather have a night like this than a 40 plate evening in the city. When you receive my art, my gift to you, that is the greatest gift to me. And life is the greatest art our Creator gives to us.” Hornbeck concludes, “Its ours to learn to receive that gracefully.”