Do we even know how to receive?
Grief levels us.
Loss leaves us untethered.
Change—so much change—gives us whiplash.
We don’t want to “sit with it.” We don’t want to wait while it passes through us. We want to do something with it. We want to fix it. Overcome it. Heal it as quickly and actively as possible.
I am awake at 3 a.m., my litany of recent losses (six deaths in five months) just the topmost layer of despair. Underneath that layer, more layers: health issues, care-giving elderly parents issues, business issues…
We seek remedies. We concoct rituals. We clear, we move, we think, we talk. We make resolutions, pronouncements, schedules. We know there’s a silver lining in here somewhere and we’re going to figure out what it is…right now.
My friends and their stories echo through the dark night: the Widows Club, so many of my peers who have suddenly lost their anchors. This one’s marriage is dissolving, that one’s new midlife true love is backing out. Here a job loss, there a mysterious illness. What will happen in November? Will we lose our health insurance?
We say: I can’t just sit here and “allow” it, whatever “it” is. I have to do something. I can’t wait for the blessing to come from this devastation, I must go get it.
Yet I’m numb from so much effort; I can’t make myself go to memorial services anymore—dreams disintegrating, friends grieving themselves raw. I stay home and pretend it doesn’t matter that we’re all drowning.
We say: I am a doer, a giver, a maker of things happening. Everything I (still) have, I made. I’m not going to stop now. I don’t wait for the gifts to come to me, I make them. I don’t wait to receive.
Time stops in the stillness of middle-night. If I force myself to stop thinking about it all, will I sleep? Will I know what to do in the morning? Will anything be any different?
We ask for solutions, for guidance, for blessings. We wait. We try to stop all the doing. We fret. We fret because we don’t know how to receive. We don’t know how to receive because we don’t know what it means to receive, because we think to receive is to be passive. We think to receive is to sit and wait for someone to give us something, and one thing we will no longer do is sit and wait. We don’t wait for it, because we believe it might never come.
And yet: “to receive” is an active verb, not a passive one. To be in “reception mode” means to be tuning in, to be constantly paying attention, to be actively participating with the signals coming at us from the universe at all times, to be ready to hear and process and consider and decide and explore.
Clues, hints, options.
Guidance, possibilities, answers.
The what ifs and maybe this ones and why not try thats.
Open windows. Far vistas. The right-in-front-of-me. The why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-before. The blessings. The gifts.
We receive by being ready—for anything. We receive when we leave the house at a moment’s notice. We receive by making a myriad of conscious choices all day long: this, not that; here, not there. We receive by answering that email, making that coffee date, committing to attend that event. We receive when we turn our faces to the sun, walk around the block, drive through that lost neighborhood.
We receive when we buy the book—and then read the book. We receive when we say yes, we receive when we hug like we mean it, we receive when we repeat that new neighbor’s name so we will remember it. We receive when we choose that one thing we normally would never.
I hear a dog bark from far away in the last hour before dawn. It’s a message. I get it. I decide to stop planning, solving, unraveling. I decide to stop asking for guidance, for intervention, for the best possible outcomes for everyone involved. Instead, remembering the old AM clock radio I used to fall asleep to light-years ago, I gently turn down the noise in my head and aim my antenna up into the starry night. I set it on “scan” and let it search for the signals that will come through the strongest. I sleep, fully prepared to receive.
Prepare to receive. Fine-tune your receptors. The signals are out there, searching for each of us.
Author: Candelora Versace
Image: Andrei Niemimäki/Flickr
Editors: Catherine Monkman; Nicole Cameron