You can learn a lot from someone who is dying. When death is no longer an intellectual musing but has become an ill fated lover we are stripped naked in the face of our own mortality. Truth distills to simplicity.
A woman I work with is on hospice, bedridden for the past year. Our work is to get her on her feet so she can stay in her home to die, a requirement since she lives alone. Liability issues often take precedence. (That my friends is another blog!)
From a few shaky steps at the start, she is doing remarkably well now, pushing her walker for short distances in her home.
This work takes all of our focus. To start, she is much larger than me. Her legs are not always under her control. One missed step and she would be down with no way of getting her back up. I follow intently, holding her with one hand as the other pulls her wheelchair right behind her.
We venture one day to the back of the house, a space she has not been in for nearly a year. She sits back in the wheelchair after walking ten feet as magical timbres fill the air. Where were these beautiful sounds coming from?
Three Koshi chimes swing gently in the archway. My head inadvertently hit them as we passed under.
I was first bathed in their transcendent tones at a ceremony in Santa Fe. Tito La Rosa, Andean musician and sound healer from Peru was at YogaSource. Immediately captivated by their quiet wonder I ordered them when I returned home.
Hearing them filled me with the delight of a child. “I love Koshi chimes,” I told her.
“You can have them”, she said.
My initial impulse to her gift was, “Oh no, I couldn’t”, succumbing to the voice saying you can’t possibly have what you really want along with some tortured versions of better to give than receive.
My delight immediately shut down.
“The last thing I want is a yard sale when I’m gone.”
What really matters becomes crystal clear when everything that matters is slipping away.
“I see how your eyes light up when you look at them. I want you to have them now rather than wait to leave them for you in some will. It’s much more fun that way.”
Not only had my own delight shut down with my refusal but I was denying her the pleasure in giving them to me. We both lose.
As I opened the well of receptivity in my own heart I tasted a deep truth in giving and receiving.
A gift that is given and received freely, in its purest sense, is simply joy. A joy for the one who gives and a joy for the one who receives.
There is no agenda. No conditions. No strings attached to the gift. This dying woman offering chimes with unadulterated attachment was one of the purest gifts I have ever received.
Often a gift comes with conditions, hidden or blatant. If you are good, if you are worthy, if you love me, then, and only then is the gift yours. The price tag is often way too high. The giving comes as a way to keep someone bound. To keep someone needing us. It is the twisted power play of co-dependent relationships. The natural flow of energy between two hearts becomes so laden with conditions, expectations and demands. The gift becomes a burden to bear.
When we strip it clean and polish it to purity, this exchange of giving and receiving is an immaculate transmission of our sacred heart. Whatever the exchange, be it time, money, love or a bow tied box, the true gift is the lightness of joy.
I left her home like a child on Christmas morning, rich in a bounty of gifts.
There is a lot to learn from someone who is dying.
Head to the Peaceful Puddle for more on Koshi Chimes.