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standing at the gate of mercy

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    Blog comments from the last two days cause me to reconsider my attitude towards the giving and receiving of human kindness: receive so others can give / gratitude in receiving is a gift to the giver / there’s a lot of love in the world … that’s why I keep coming back [to this blog] / you have touched many people … some of that is coming back to you.
    These words truly catch me by surprise. I’d always thought it amazing that I should be given so many opportunities to be of service. Again and again (over the 18 months of working at hospice, I remarked with gratitude on my good fortune to be asked to sit with patients at the bedside as they looked back on their lives and forward to death; of holding the scared space with their families and friends; of offering inter-faith rituals prior and after death; and of creating funeral and memorial services in direct response to patients and their families wanted them.
    Living with pain for three-plus weeks has brought me face to face with the receiving end of loving kindness. At times I resist, decline, push away, become suspicious of others’ motives. While my heart has expanded beyond its ego-centric boundaries, it continues to trip over deep roots of unworthiness.Thank you all being my inadvertant teachers, for pointing me to yet another gate: one that opens into a wide space of unknown mercy. “The key word in working with pain … is ‘softening,'” writes Stephen Levine, “It has the power to transmit the spaciousness required for deeper investigation and letting go.”source: Levine, S. (1991). Guided meditations, explorations and healing. New York: Anchor Books, p. 202. image: (top) soulresearch.com
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7 responses »

  1. odd isn’t it. Here we are at the biggest gift time of the year, and of course we thank people for giving us “a present”, even if we don’t really want it or like it or have many more like it at home.

    Yet to give the give of time, energy, love and compassion, sitting with, reading to, cooking for or holding a hand…. harder for us to just say ‘thank you’. why is that?

    Reply
    • the word “intimacy” comes to mind, Nancy. Gifts come wrapped and often are not opened till later when the giver is out of sight. Loving gestures, on the other hand, are immediate and personal. Right there .. “I and thou” (as M Buber says).

      Reply
      • of course, and how lovely – the intimacy of giving and receiving in that way is so – fumble for a word – heartful.

        Reply
  2. I believe that if one’s heart leads them to do something for someone, one should listen and follow what it says. In doing so, compassion, open heartedness, loving kindness is both given and received! Blessings to you Peter for being gracious while receiving. It has taken courage on both parts.
    Tracy

    Reply
  3. Peter,
    I have followed your blog in silence for several months. Often thinking that perhaps I would say a quick thank you in response to finding a clarifying moment in your sharing. I have had disc pain in the past , and wish you peace through this fierce time. For me it continues to be so much easier to give help and offer compassion than to be on the receiving. And I remain convinced that the lessons continue to arrive to teach me to be fully human. TImely and necessary, but seldom graciously received. Thank you for your honesty.
    Lain

    Reply
    • Thank you for coming out of silence, Lain, Your kind words are a balm to my pain. I find it difficult if not impossible to receive the teachings in the middle of misery (be it pain, depresssion, sadness). But soon afterwards, the patient teacher awaits to review the lesson. How wonderful is that!

      Reply
  4. Peter, I love how you are expanding into more self-love! What a gift and what a blessing, bittersweet though it may be right now. I can relate all too well to feelings of unworthiness… You are teaching me in so many ways what it means to be whole.

    Reply

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