The Words of the Relph Family

The meaning of give and take

John Relph
February 1972

If I give out energy to something, I like to be rewarded. If not, I feel empty, and that I have done it for nothing. If I get a response equal to the energy I give out, then I feel what I have given. If I care for something, it comes more beautiful to have the more care I take, the more beauty I see in it. Therefore I get a response corresponding to what I have given out. The more beauty I see, then the more I am happy and alive. Therefore, if I care for nothing and appreciate nothing then I receive no joy from any object and my life is empty. If I have give and take with creation and care for it then the creation responds by being more beautiful and I feel great joy from having cared.

Give and take with people also brings great joy, the more open people are, the more give and take exists between them and the closer they become through love for each other and understanding. However, all this love must be given with direction and that must not be for selfish gain. By showing love to all things and giving love and understanding to all things, then great satisfaction is felt through the response of the object. The more one gives the more beauty is returned, therefore complete giving results in complete beauty. This complete giving is perfect give with the response of great beauty; giving great happiness. I know give and take and what I have said is true because if I do something, it matters little how long it takes, if my heart is not in it I feel empty at the end. If I give through heart then I feel the response from the object.

If in the classroom I teach a lesson and approach it with the attitude that it is just...something which must be done, then this is reflected in what I say and how I react. If I am disinterested and lazy and cannot be bothered, then the children feel and respond accordingly. They do it because they have to, not because they want to. If instead I put every ounce of energy behind what I am doing and launch myself, the children immediately sit up and take notice and show interest. We begin give and take and great satisfaction follows as we grow from strength to strength in discussion and they cannot wait to get down to writing and drawing to express themselves further. They are happy and lively and I feel deep satisfaction in having achieved something: it is a pity to have to stop. Therefore, ideally, everything I do in life, I should launch myself into it, and the more I give out the greater will be the response to give me satisfaction. By working in an opposite way to this, great apathy and boredom is created and there is no zest in life and both the children and myself feel empty and plodding.

I see all give and take in this situation. It makes little difference what you are doing. If you give out great energy from heart in the work you do, then the response will make it all worthwhile. The perfect give and take, the highest form is that which is centered on God. If we center ourselves on Him, every minute of every day, how can we do anything else but give out all we have to bring joy to the Father and share in it ourselves. You only get back what you give out. Give nothing and you get nothing. Give everything and all happiness is yours. I really realized this when situations at school led to the necessity of my having to tell Trevor to think about what he was doing. I found that as I was telling him what he should do I was also telling myself that I fell far short of what I was saying, and that I too needed to give myself a good shake. It was a talk of give and take from which we both learnt a great deal and appreciated each other. I realized I was teaching myself through Trevor's mistakes. 

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