I am a recovering martyr. I have martyr archetype deep in my cells. It bleeds a little but i won't complain.
I have been trying to meet this in me. Trying to resist the cell-deep urge to refuse all but the opportunity to be the giver.
It made me pious. Hard to live with.
Wise women like Chris Zydel encouraged me to see receiving in a whole new light. Here is her beautiful talk that inspired me so...
Receiving as a wisdom, as a gift. As an integral part of the flow.
The life death life cycle.
Oh it seemed all very well theoretically but when my beloved Vicki was dying i got to see the gift of it in action.
Vicki was working hard out to finish her Winston Churchill Fellowship paper on sexual abuse perpetrated against women with disabilities. It is a huge largely unseen problem in our community the world over. Vicki's legacy includes her raising this issue kindly and cogently. She proposed strategies and a pathway out of this particular darkness. She finished it the week of her death.
And i am proud to say she asked me to paint the picture (below) to accompany it.
I was so thrilled to tautoko her and her work in this way - it really was a gift to say yes. And a gift to be the conduit for the creative force that made the painiting so effortless... i truly had to keep up with it... I made it with love. So glad to reach out to this woman who lived too far away.
She did not tell me how sick she was. Her second to last email specifically said "I am not dying yet!" and i believed her.
But knowing it was coming sometime she also made another request that i want to talk about here - she gave her family the gift of asking for the death she wanted. The funeral she wanted.
Always putting that end off though, because she had too damned much to do, to die. Children and grandchildren to love, an entire human service to organise, a husband to adore, friends to laugh with... so much to do.
In the scheme of asking - asking for a painting from a friend finding her feet as an artist and for the kind of send off you want don't seem very big. I am not that well versed in the art of asking, but those two things seem pretty small.
From my view point as a learner it seems that the quality of the request has something to do with the outcome. Clean and loving seem important. Without agenda or greed seem important. Asking for what you need. That seems crucial.
And here is the gift part.
Having received the ask (and i guess that is where receiving starts, or maybe it is before that, when we acknowledge our own needs, receive that inside ourselves perhaps.) those of us who were the recipients could set about saying yes, taking the action required.
It gave us a pathway.
It gave us comfort knowing we were doing what she wanted. No mucking around prevaricating or second guessing. We could take action and lovingly carry the requests out knowing we were doing her work.
We were held up through hard intense stuff by that.
We were held up through the sorrow of the loss by that.
Knowing that our actions were honouring her made that abyss-time easier because it was enfolding us in her wishes.
As for the art, which i am sad to say she only saw in the photo because death snuck up on her, the gift to me was immense.
Because i live away from Vicki and our connection began many years ago there are people in her life whom i don't know. To m many, I was a stranger in one of life's most intimate times. But people greeted me like family because of the joy the painting had given Vicki. They felt that the painting had articulated a piece of who Vicki was and they were grateful i had honoured her. I had no idea she would show so many people. I made it for her. But she received it so lovingly it became much more than a gift between the two of us. The gift of her asking me and finding me a way to encapsulate my love and admiration was received in a way that meant i could in turn, receive so much more. She honoured me by receiving my response in that generous way.
By asking for the painting she gave me the chance to give her a heart-felt expression of the Deep Rooted Love and gratitude for all that she was. She gave me a chance to capture my love for her in a moment, perhaps allowing some of the gratitude floating around out there in the world to move through the brush onto the canvas and meet her eyes and her heart.
She gave me a point of connection, a doorway into her life in the tenderest of times. She gave me the chance to see that even without being a heroine of her proportions i can be someone who, through her heart's work, can make a difference.
The gift of the clean ask.
The gift of the the honoured receive.
I am going to practice now. Ask for what i want. Receive generously. Give generously. And always remember love is in both the giving and the receiving.