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Receiving and Giving – an Easter Reflection

Last night was Maundy Thursday.  In the Christian Tradition, of which I am a part, it is the night when we celebrate Jesus’ last night with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion on Good Friday, looking forward to Easter.   It is the night Jesus shared bread and wine with his followers to deepen their memory of him.  It is also the night he washed the feet of his disciples.  He said he did this to set an example of servanthood for them.

Christians of many denominations all over the world attended services last evening that incorporated foot washing.  At the service I attended, each person who chose to participate came to the front pew and had their feet washed in a basin by a person kneeling in front of them.  When finished, the one who did the washing returned to their original seat in the congregation. The person whose feet had just been washed then turned around and knelt waiting for the next person to sit before them.

The power and implications of this experience are many for me.  Not everyone chose to participate which is fine.   Bearing witness and offering support is important.   I’m glad, however, that I did go up.  Getting to my feet (pun intended) was the only hard part.  Like so much in life, getting started is half the battle.

Once I sat down in front of a radiantly smiling woman whom I did not know, I entered an experience that was full of kindness, relaxation and friendship.  In fact, it felt like the whole congregation was entering a companionable meditation.  It was perfect in its imperfection.  The person designated to hand out the towels for drying, got distracted and my servant and I were briefly marooned.    I leaned over and gave her arms a little squeeze.  We smiled broadly at each other.  Servanthood doesn’t always go according to plan, but we are still serving.

By the time I’d switched and was kneeling and waiting, I was looking forward to my turn.  I wanted to do this for someone else.  As a distinguished member of the congregation sat down in front of me, all I felt was joy.  I noticed her bunion, and wondered if it gave her pain.  I felt strength and sturdiness flowing from her body.  I poured water over her feet from a plastic pitcher clearly conscripted from someone’s kitchen for the occasion.  We worked together like we’d done this a hundred times before.  I was gentle and loving, but there was also a practical, workmanlike process that didn’t take long.

Dare I say I had fun?  If fun is measured by the urge, “Let’s do this again!”, then yes, I had fun.  Foot washing during Maundy Thursday services is a tangible enactment of profound spiritual principles.  It is a great equalizer, demonstrating the circle of serving and being served.  It shows us the importance of receiving first, to better equip us to serve. We are reminded that giving and receiving can’t be separated.  That each role brings equal joy and strength and that it is natural to flow back and forth between being giver and receiver.  But, receive first.  Let our gifts to others flow from our own hearts being filled.  That’s what makes it fun.


Trusting Healing

It can take a long time for some emotional wounds to form.  It can also be surprisingly hard to know for sure when a wound is healing, especially at the beginning.

Let’s think for a moment how these many wounds happen. Frequently they’re cumulative.  A number of similar experiences or habits repeating over and over.  Chronic criticism over many years can evolve into you then continuing now to remind yourself your needs don’t matter or admitting defeat after you’ve just barely started something bold and new, to name just a few.

Think about it physically, one action, word or thought, like one quick swipe of sandpaper across your skin, it wouldn’t feel good, but it also probably wouldn’t do much damage.  If you keep rubbing the same place with the sandpaper over and over, after a while, the wound will be very big and painful.  So, I think you’d agree that step one would be “ditch the sandpaper”.  Good idea, but the wound still looks awful.  Some people might think “the sandpaper wasn’t the problem, look at this terrible wound!”  True, but you only stopped rubbing a minuet ago.  What might happen to the wound after a day, a week, a month with no new wounding?  It could be profoundly better (especially with a little TLC thrown in like keeping it clean and a nice, soft bandage).

I can be touch to ditch the sandpaper.  We might now know it IS sandpaper and/or it might feel so familiar that it’s strangely hard to stop rubbing. Maybe it’s always using the word “should” instead of “could”.  Maybe it’s looking at the world with a critical eye, seeing what’s wrong rather than what’s right, or a hundred other possibilities that leave us with wounds of  discouragement, fear or defeat.   It’s a leap of faith to allow time for healing to show – to give it time to prove it was the sandpaper after all and that healing can happen.

Someone I knew a long time ago always used to say, “It’s a great life as long as you don’t weaken!”    He had big wounds of disappointment and discouragement with life that never seemed to diminish.  There had been a lot of sandpaper moments in his childhood, but he kept the sandpaper and kept using it on himself long after he could have thrown it away and let his woulds heal.  Far longer than it needed to be, life continued to feel like a battle to him.

What’s your sandpaper?  Be on lookout for it.  A common thought.  A frequent phrase you use.  It’s entirely possible that it’s unconscious, swiping away at a wound that’s never had the chance to heal.  Find it the sandpaper, let go of it, add a little TLC (mindfulness, loving kindness meditation, tapping, etc.) and trust the healing will happen as you return to your true, unwounded self.

This meditation may help (remember that “home” is your own deepest true self).

How do I know what I want?

Knowing what we want seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, right?  Why, then, can it be SO hard?  So often I ask people, “What do you really want?”   I then see pain, confusion or frustration on his or her face when they say, “I don’t know.”  That’s often followed up with, “I think there’s something wrong with me.”  This is so sad.  Confusion followed by self-condemnation.  Not the kind of 2fer we hope for.

There are many reasons why we get confused and/or blocked around our wants.  We may have had our wants met with criticism in the past.  Possibly even being accused of being selfish.  We may have expressed wants and had those desires ignored.  One way or another, however, many of us have learned to keep our wants hidden.  Some of us have gotten so good at it that we even hide our knowing from ourselves.  Then we loose access to what we want and our confusion makes sense.

The good news is that we can rekindle knowledge of our wants.  Ironically, a very helpful place to start can be listing what we don’t want.   It’s so interesting that our dislikes are often easier to know than our likes.  Whatever we do know is information.  It’s the trail of bread crumbs to follow to find the deeper truth.  It can be a gentle process of elimination.  For example, if I’m clear I don’t like crowds and noise, than maybe I do like being with people one on one in a quiet setting.  If I know I hate working from home and the quiet drives me crazy, than maybe I like the bustle of people around me.

If we can let go of the “What’s wrong with me?” and cultivate what we do know, even if it seems negative, we can go from there.  Just as an experiment, make a list of things, activities, experiences you know you dislike.  Pick one and consider tapping.  “Even though I know I hate my job, I accept myself exactly where I am.”  “Even though I hate spending half the day on the phone, I’m open to seeing this as information to help me.”  “Even though my job really stresses me out, I’m open to new insight and compassion.”  Then vent about the dislike.  Don’t hold back.  Give it all you’ve got!  After a couple of rounds rest.  See what new insight bubbles up to the surface.  Observe, explore as you tap.  See if a moment doesn’t arrive like, “You know, what I really want to be different is . . . ”  “What I’d really like to spend my time doing is . . . ”  You just reached your heart’s desire through the knowledge of a dislike. 

Give it a try.  Let me know how it goes – and, keep Tapping Prayerfully (that’s with trust that the truth is already inside you).  Blessings, Jeanne


The Courage to be Generous

Generosity takes courage.  As long as I’m fearful – fearful that I’ll be robbed, cheated, taken advantage of, or maybe worst of all, ignored – I’ll stay locked up, guarded and suspicious.
What would happen if I choose to be generous in spite of my fears?  What if it doesn’t even matter if a few people don’t appreciate or recognize my gifts?  What if I choose to trust that the vast majority will be touched – will be enlarged, enriched and encouraged by my heart, my truth freely given?
It will all have been worth it.  I choose to be generous.  I choose to risk my heart in order to make a difference and to share in the journey of being human.
Let’s tap on our fears and choose the liberating power of generosity.  Share an experience of your courageous generosity.  Did you speak when it was hard?  Give when no one was looking?  Offer kindness to someone you weren’t sure would understand?