"If I love you, what business is it of yours?" (Goethe)
This box is a mystery. I don't know what it's for, who put it there, or why. It's stuck between two trees alongside a busy road in Amherst, not connected to any specific house or property. (If anyone knows the story, please tell me!) While well-made and sturdy, the box has two prominent flaws: it's tilted forward, and the door doesn't stay closed, so anything that gets put inside will slide right out. No matter how spacious or inviting its interior, it can't actually hold anything.
Like this box, many people have difficulty truly receiving. We all crave love, connection, support, and abundance, and yet even when surrounded by these things, for some people, whatever is given doesn't "stick." They're not able to close that door and take it in.
There are a few foundational wounds typically at the root of this difficulty, and they can be addressed and healed with care and attention. Still, I've noticed how many of us struggle with receiving to some degree. Accepting and appreciating material gifts is one thing, but what about compliments? Praise? Assistance? How deeply can you receive those offerings?
In this season of gift-giving, sharing, and generosity, we have an opportunity to practice gracious receiving. Receiving plays just as vital a role in the flow of abundance as giving. Instead of brushing off a compliment, a simple and sincere "Thank you!" fulfills and nourishes the exchange. If someone offers help, notice whether and where you feel resistance. See how it feels to accept the offer at face value without presuming any complicated intentions or consequences.
Practicing consciously and affirmatively receiving simple offerings can help us be prepared to accept the bigger, more transformative gifts that show up in life. As in Goethe's quotation, no obligation is implied by the gift of love. Receiving it graciously is enough -- a gift to ourselves and others.