Our life is an offering.Can you feel the urge to offer more?Unoffered love is our suffering.Our ungiven gifts clench as stress.
You and I are love’s means.This moment is our offering.We will die fully given,Or we will die ungiven,Still waiting.
It seems these days that there is much talk about the evolutionary moment we’re in. There is a desire on the part of many to offer their time, energy, creativity and gifts toward a more conscious stewardship of the future.
This beautiful poem by David Deida frames the invitation, the challenge, and the developmental movement toward this intent.
“Our life is an offering.Can you feel the urge to offer more?”
By its very nature, life is an offering – life giving to life. The ecology of existence seems a kind of rich exchange. Amongst the wide diversity of life on the planet, any species of plant or insect or mold or mineral can be viewed as a contribution to something else, a partner contributing to the life and well-being of other forms.
At the same time, the reference to “our life” seems meant to be taken more personally. As reflected in Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes,” each life can be regarded at once “as common as a field daisy and as singular.” So our lives – yours and mine – are each an offering. Unique in expression through various aptitudes, passions, perceptions and gifts. Unique in our embodiment of the “one wild and precious life” we have at our disposal, as Oliver says in another poem.
Within these two interpretations lies a tension between the unconditional nature of being – life as an offering just as it is - and life that has more particularity to it and is inhabited consciously from within. In this second sense, it’s a life that comes with an urge to live into and offer who we find ourselves becoming.
This urge – like something unavoidable – may be the “vitality, life force, energy, quickening" that Martha Graham writes of, something that “moves through (each of us) into action.” And yet, it doesn’t always seem to work that way, seamlessly as it might for the field daisy crooning for the light.
It’s more complicated than that for us humans.
Unoffered love is our suffering.Our ungiven gifts clench as stress.
This offering, the impulse to express, to follow a particular thread, to live out the soul’s code inevitably gets blocked, thwarted, redirected. We get in our own way.
The hindrances are myriad – for some, there may be the necessity for even the most basic survival needs. For many of us, there is our conditioning - fear or a need to perform, an urgency that lives like a mandate, the preemptive hijacking of our attention and energy by the expectations of others or ourselves or an instinct to stay under the radar. The influences of our social nature and needs can collude to minimize the uniqueness, importance and value of many gifts. So a good bit of life it seems is shaped by the ego’s needs for security, approval, control and keeps us at a distance from the deeper current of our desire.
So we suffer, we stress, we experience a loss of soul.
You and I are loves means.This moment is our offering.
Atsome grace-filled moment, we come to realize that this life we are has nothing to do with one’s efforting “self”, the one who wants to “give.” We discover that Love has been awaiting us even through the suffering.
The tension of the “ungiven gift” is resolved in the moments when the personal gives way to the transpersonal. When we find ourselves present enough to the immediacy of our life’s energy that we can open or surrender to what is moving in and through us in that moment. The gift is revealed then in the form of a written word, a spontaneous gesture, a tender gaze, an impassioned stand, the flow state that takes hold in the midst of facilitation. Whatever it is, the essence of it, by its being, its trueness, the love that motivates it – becomes, in an instant, the fullest possible offering.
This is not without sacrifice. Something must die in the moment of offering. He or she who would “urge to offer more”, must let go of whatever self-preserving instinct – fear, control, personal agenda or self-conscious sacrifice – would interfere with the offering. Ego, in other words, has to step aside, surrender, has to lie down in order for us tobe given, by Love…
We will die fully given,Or we will die ungiven,Still waiting.
Are we destined in these last lines to face a final verdict as to whether our life was fully given or not? Or are we called to attend to something closer to us in time than the ultimate end - the present moment for example, our lived experience right now?
Given or ungiven, death is inevitable, but the one who dies may not be the same in each instance. When given, the self-preserving ego dies in the moment of offering. Perhaps when ungiven, it is a loss for the soul, held in human form with its vulnerabilities and frailties. When the channel is blocked in the urge to offer more, the gift finds itself still waiting, unfulfilled and unlived.
What does any of this mean for those of us seeking to offer our gifts and our passions in service to the unborn future?
For me, the tension described in these lines remains an ongoing developmental edge. I often feel flooded in the urge to offer more, caught in fear that my life will end with my gifts unused or ungiven. The tension is amplified as my mind leaps over the present to anticipate – and judge – the unknown future.
The task in these moments is to pull myself back from the anticipated future, to return my attention to my breath, my embodied experience and the living impulse that is this life’s offering. In the conscious breath, muscles unclench, the channel opens and “given or ungiven” are reconciled in the act of giving myself as fully and well as I can to the present.
We are love’s means....Let us trust, you and I, that the current moving through us can and will carry us to our next steps, to the unique expressions and contributions we have to make to the wider ecology of existence.
Let us entrust ourselves to this moment, life’s offering, fully given....