God’s peace and joy are mine.
There is an eloquent flow in the art of giving and receiving, yet not as we know it in the world where one believes when she gives there is now a deficit like the mathematical concept of addition and subtraction. Rather this flow of energy is effortlessly multiplied to that who gives it. Scientifically speaking, energy likes to flow. When it is bottled up or throttled there become breaking points of explosive release or constraint from the stopping and starting from what wants to move naturally. Thus, the energy that wants to be free gets manipulated. Giving and receiving is an energy form expressed in our body, mind, and spirit that, too, likes to maintain an effortless free flow.
“They are not like to the gifts the world can give, in which the giver loses as he give the gift; the taker is the richer by his loss. Such are not gifts, but bargains made with guilt” (ACIM Lesson 105 1:4-5).
We often throttle the energy of giving by stopping for a moment to contemplate, “Is this something I am ready to give away?” meaning “Is this something I am ready to have less of or none at all?” This may be likened to when you make a pile of clothes to donate, where you choose an item because you no longer want to have it in your possession. You believe once you donate a certain article of clothing it is gone from you forever leaving behind an empty space. Another example is when we are children and we learn to share our toys. Did we not freely give of the items were sick of playing with, first? Unfortunately this concept of denying or throttling has been transposed on how we share peace and love, leaving such a pure energy distorted.
This misunderstanding has also been translated to how we use our time. In most circumstances, when we give of our time and energy to another we find ourselves exhausted or depleted at a certain point. Yet this is not the free flow of giving and receiving as God would have us experience it. This model is based on fear and guilt not the limitlessness of love.
“True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself” (ACIM Lesson 105 4:2-3).
In the Kingdom of God, there is no need to fear deficit or depletion because it is impossible to be anything other than abundant. Think of a time when you gave something freely with no expectation of getting anything in return. For me, I think of when I have prepared a meal for someone. I enjoy cooking healthy food and it brings me joy when I can share that with others. When I take the container of food to the recipient, I truly feel it is me who receives because I love the look on the other’s face and love knowing that this will be one less meal this person has to worry about today. I enjoy knowing that what is given was made with love and will transform the givers body in way that only the magic of food prepared with love can. It also warms my heart when the receiver fully accepts my gift and does not feel the need to reciprocate. Yet so often we feel we must repay someone for what they have done for us or often we say, “You shouldn’t have,” not fully accepting the energy of what is given. This is an example of how we can even throttle the specific energy of receiving.
Today, we begin to honor the true art of giving and receiving through our practice periods. It is done in a surprising way as we think of “enemies,” those with whom we tend to refrain from extending peace and joy. I think of my partner who just returned from New Orleans who mentioned that he felt more accosted in that city than any other he had ever visited. I will use the word “constrained” as a way to describe the way he felt walking down the street. He described that he reached point when he no longer wanted to look another in the eyes because he would get asked for money and felt he just had to move fast and look straight ahead as if in a human car wash where you just drive on through as you get battered by the brushes and high pressured water. He did not enjoy feeling like he couldn’t greet those around him or like he had the luxury to just look around and take in his surroundings. He did a beautiful job of noticing this energy and has since focused on how he could extend love to those which he might feel contraction around. He mentioned his desire to experience seeing the light in those that are asking for money on the street and even if he chooses not to give money at that time, still maintaining the extension of joy and peace. This is the goal of our practice periods today, to explore with whom do we deny the flow of peace and joy.
As I sit with these practice periods, personally, I can feel it in my body. I think of a specific person and I can feel a contraction in my heart, throat, or third-eye chakra. I can literally feel a blockage of energy. It feels as though I have pinched off a water hose and also like I am fortifying such areas. The idea for today is to tear down those walls and to let the abundant energy flow through us. When we release into that, when I released into that, during the practice periods, I noticed I was never giving anything way to be left with less but that this free flow of giving meant that I was receiving more, my “well” was instantly replenished. This is the effortlessness of true giving. This is the giving from which God gives unto us and is the limitless feeling we were meant to experience.
“Today our practice periods will start a little differently. Begin today by thinking of those brothers who have been denied by you the peace and joy that are their right under the equal laws of God. Here you denied them to yourself. And here you must return to claim them as your own” (ACIM Lesson 105 6:1-4).
In practicing with the flow of giving and receiving we are learning that we receive what we give, which is a concept we will play with more in future lessons. But for today, explore those areas were you constrain or throttle such gifts to another and notice how in doing so you also hold them from yourself. Notice the break in energy around your energetic body. Begin to feel how the Universal energy is abundant and rejoices in the free flow of peace and joy.
Often students of the Course believe that this means that when you do this exercise you must now be willing to be with this “enemy” or be prepared to be friends with them. Today, we are merely working with the energy of picturing said person and noticing the divine power that comes of opening our hearts and minds to sharing the flow of abundance God that gives unto us. We are merely releasing the areas we have withheld love from ourselves by withholding it from another, showing us that we do not hurt another; we only hurt ourselves by restraining love and peace.
In closing, I would like to go back to an example used earlier with my partner. There is a song by the band Goo Goo Dolls called Bulletproof Angel, that discusses the interaction between the narrator and a homely person he continues to see each day on the street. The narrator takes a moment to really “see” this person and notices she is an angel that recognizes the deeper truth in the world. And as the song goes, he notices how others just continue to walk on by her, never even noticing she is there, a Child of God. As this song encourages, look around as you go about your day and notice where are you withholding the natural, abundant flow of peace and joy from the angels, the brothers and sisters, that surround you? Let down your walls, let the floodgates open, and give as you receive.