Circle of Reciprocity

sea urchins

One morning when I went to journal I only wrote three words: circle of reciprocity.  There was nothing more.  No explanation or commentary, just three words.  It almost seems a bit redundant because reciprocity is a circular energy.  Reciprocity is giving of yourself without expecting something in return and getting something unexpected back.  Reciprocity is a mutual giving and receiving.  When we give of ourselves freely reciprocity happens automatically.  It doesn’t mean that the person we gave to is the one who will give back to us, but an exchange will come from somewhere.

The circle of reciprocity is a spiritual practice when entered into unconditionally.  When we ask for what we need and offer each other what we can, we enter into a dance of reciprocity.  We are doing a two-step exchange of needs and offerings.  Asking, offering, giving and receiving is one circular motion.  If we are mindful of our interactions we discover we cannot give without receiving and we can not receive without giving.  It happens in nature and it happens in relationships.  When you start to witness this back and forth motion it is a beautiful thing to see.

Some years ago I spent three weeks on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii, studying the divine feminine as it was expressed through the women who lived there.  Every morning I would awaken early in order to walk the beach at sunrise, take in the ocean and find shells that had washed up over night.  There were lots of beautiful shells on the beach, most of them small. The larger shells were often broken.

One morning as I walked along  the beach I found a beautiful sea urchin’s shell. It was about 4 inches in diameter and was the color lavender. (shown above in my hand)  I was delighted to find that it was whole when I lifted it from the white sands, into my hand.  Excitement grew as I began to walk with this treasure back to the place I was staying so that I could show the shell to my friends.

I had walked only a few steps when a voice in my head said “this shell must be given to Lee, for it carries a message for her.”  I didn’t know Lee very well because we had met just before the trip, but I knew I had to follow my intuition. I was disappointed that I couldn’t keep this beautiful, perfect lavender shell.  I walked back to where we were staying and knocked on Lee’s door and when she opened it I placed the shell in her hands and said “I found this on the beach and it is for you.”  She hugged me and said thank you.

Over the years Lee and I became friends.  She kept the shell on a shelf in her healing room and once in a while I would see it there and take in it’s beauty.  One Christmas we got together to exchange gifts like we had for many years.  One of the gifts for me was in a square box beautifully wrapped.  When I removed the paper and opened the box, there was the beautiful shell that I had given her years before, being given back to me.

I started to cry as I said “I was told that the shell had a special message for you, do you know what that was?”  She started to cry too and said “I have never had anyone give me something so beautiful, in the way that you did.”  The shell was returned to me at a time when I was learning that giving and receiving were the same thing, because when you truly give without expectation you always get something greater in return, in ways that you might not be aware of.

As we enter into the circle of reciprocity we become spiritual traders of life’s energy.  By this practice we learn that everything lives in reciprocal relationship with everything else, whether we can see the relationship or not.  Only spiritual exchange of energy creates flow. Our giving is our receiving.  As long as the energy keeps circulating there is always enough to go around. There is a ring of support that encircles in and unending flow of reciprocity and it is available to each of us.

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