In the midst of my re-entry process here in Vietnam, I am once more faced with the transition back to this place that has been my “home” for the last 8 months. It has felt more difficult than ever before this time around, and I can’t help but feel that it’s in part related to what I both gave and received in my recent trip back home to be with family.
I was blessed again with some of the most tender and precious moments life can offer to us. To be present for my sister and her family during the arrival of her third son was truly a gift. It is difficult to put into words the immediate love and connection I felt for and with my new nephew Adrian. Being present to his whole being brings the awareness of his soft skin, his sweet smell, his involuntary smiles, his peaceful, sleeping face, his gentle cries, his dislike of being changed, his immediate comfort in the arms of his mom, and his captivating eyes.
The sense of presence I felt was expanded even moreso by the opportunity I had to be with Adrian’s two older brothers, Joey and Jakey, and their cousins Drew, June, Cameron and Sophia. Reading books, playing games, outdoor activities, pick-ups and drop-offs from school, errands, TV shows, baseball and soccer games, dance lessons and sharing meals… these experiences deepen my love and my bond.
One of the most intimate and priceless elements of my visit was my sister’s capacity to receive my love and support. In our family of 10, most of us developed a very self-dependent way of living and being in the world. Not only does that make it difficult to ask for help, but then at times almost impossible to receive it. I am inspired in witnessing the gracious and grateful way in which she received, allowing me to help with laundry, cleaning, cooking, baby-rocking, errands, etc. Bearing witness to the incredible partnership she has developed and nurtured with her husband was also very grounding and uplifting.
When I look back on this time, I can see that I was there to give, and yet truthfully, in giving it felt like it was so much more of an experience of receiving. I felt so aware of this truth even as I was “in it.” And I believe that is one of the reasons why my heart has continued to feel like it is breaking in leaving behind such a beautiful, sacred experience. It is one I will always cherish. What are those moments and times for you? How can we create more of them? How can we be present to life in such a way that in giving we are truly receiving?