Give and Receive

On a Saturday in the spring, many of my friends will be spending time in their gardens—turning over dirt, adding in compost, nestling plants into the ground. It is all apart of the annual ritual to watch the miracle of something small and tender become hardy and fruitful. We nurture, it grows. We care for, it prospers. Then it gives back. It gives us not just the product of its harvest—the pea, the okra, the zinnia, but it gives us pleasure in watching the transformation and knowing we had something to do with its success. We give of our time and energy and we receive the gifts of the fruition. It is all part of the same continuum. The one that gives and the one that receives. We give of ourselves and we receive something in return.

What we would all like to imagine is that the continuum is balanced. That for every time we give, we receive. Perhaps, in some measure this is true. When we give from our heart, our heart feels ripples of our extension as the tide flows back. It makes us feel good, it gives us something.

I was reminded yesterday, though, how difficult this balance is to achieve. My dear friend has a little girl—almost five. They have spent less than a half a dozen nights apart from one another in that time. My friend and her husband give a lot to their precious daughter because she needs extra attention, she needs to receive extra time to help her grow, become hardy, become fruitful. But in all that giving, my friend has, understandably, negated her need to receive.

To receive—to give to yourself what you give to a friend, to family member, to a child—should be that which you also experience. The old adage—it’s easier said than done—may come into thought here, but what if we thought the next time we were doing for someone else, the next time we were giving to something else, we took a breath, paid ourselves a compliment and graciously accepted it. A small act, but something to remind ourselves that if we are to grow—like the plants in the garden, like the child that we love—then we too must receive the nurturing.

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