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  • Frank Basler

Always Receive Love

I read a good novel while in rehab with a broken ankle recently. When I saw the following passage, I wrote it down, because it expresses nicely my experience at Jewish Health Services in Bridgeport, CT:


I think the ability to receive love is as important to give it. It’s one in the same,

really. I suspect the most we can hope for, and it’s no small hope, is that we never

give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive

love.[1]


Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve been fiercely independent. “Mommy, I know my way home from school. You don’t have to walk me.” Then I got lost and ended up at the police station. Here in rehab, I hear myself saying, “No, I don’t need help. I can do it myself.”


I often eat meals with a fellow named Phil who has no trouble asking for help. Sitting in his wheelchair, he asks for a bib, or a pillow behind his back. Then he asks for the pillow to be removed. The staff is always obliging, never annoyed by the services he asks for.


The staff is always attentive and obliging. “Can I help you?” “What do you need this morning?” “Here are some extra towels.” “Put your laundry in here, and I’ll wash it in the morning.”


I had a neighbor who talked loudly and would sometimes howl. Seemingly retarded or otherwise addled, the aides made a big fuss over Donny. They ignored his loud behavior, and when he was preparing to go home, they told him they’d miss him, stroked his hair, and hugged him goodbye.


Yes, there is so much love in this place. The learning for me has been to let go of my need to be independent and simply to receive the love that surrounds me.


A day after I wrote this, (and the day before I was to go home) I had a palpable experience of love while meditating. Words fail. As I looked about me, even the chair and the walker seemed to radiate love. I felt held, ensconced in love. I can recreate the experience as I type this. How? By simply receiving love.


Yes, in the words of Elizabeth Strout, “…the most we can hope for, and it’s no small hope, is that we never give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive love.”

[1] Elizabeth Strout, Abide with Me, NY: Random House, 2006, p 285.

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