Taking & Giving – Modita van Zummeren

Taking and Giving…

Oft we have the feeling that something is missing in our life. From the perspective of family constellations it is important not to stay with the question of what is missing, but to see what we can give.

But it is a fact, that you only can give, if you first have taken. As a child the only thing you have to do is taking, taking everything your parents give to you. If you have decided at some point as a child not to take from your parents any more, then something in your life stops. Your life flow stops. Later in life you can still decide to take everything your parents have given you. Then you are full, and you are able to really give…

Bert Hellinger (founder of family constellations): “What is difficult and greatest is taking. People who cannot take have remained children, who thought that they could save the mother. They feel great and blissful then. But they don’t have anything to give. They don’t give as great people but as small people who repeat what they were not able to as a child. Everything that we have reached is only by taking, taking everything as it is given to us. We have to give then, to be able to take gain. Everything we give is only a passing on. This is only possible for us if we have taken. What we take doesn’t belong to us, we only pass it on. If the other takes it then, he or she is free, not bounded to us. We only have passed it on. The secret of being blissful is taking, taking, taking and then overflow…”


“There is really only one way to restore a world that is dying and in disrepair: to make beauty where ugliness has set in. By beauty, I don’t mean a superficial attractiveness, though the word is commonly used in this way. Beauty is a loveliness admired in its entirety, not just at face value.

The beauty I’m referring to is metabolized grief. It includes brokenness and fallibility, and in so doing, conveys for us something deliciously real. Like kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, what is normally seen as a fatal flaw is distinguished with value. When we come into contact with this kind of beauty, it serves as a medicine for the brokenness in ourselves, which then gives us the courage to live in greater intimacy with the world’s wounds.

To become a fully fledged member of the ecosphere, each of us must find a way to make a contribution of beauty medicine to the world. Most of us don’t think of our gifts as contributions, though they are clearly called ‘gifts’ for a reason, but this may be because they’ve never been properly received.

I’ve heard it said that home is the place where your gifts are received. Indeed, for those who have never had their gifts acknowledged, a true sense of belonging is rarely felt. After all, how can you belong if you are but partially appreciated? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us will also admit that we are stingy with our gifts because we underestimate their worth.

As we apprentice ourselves to the way of nature, we begin to understand that all of life is in a continuous cycle of giving and receiving. It is the honouring of this cycle that makes us feel at home in ourselves and in relation to the rest of nature. In order to experience true belonging, we must not only acknowledge the gifts we are receiving, but also give our beauty away, no matter how it may be received by others.”

Excerpt from Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner (belongingbook.com)

“I’ll be back” Barbara Morgan in Limerick

In November, 27 brave souls got together for what was to be Barbara’s last open workshop in Ireland. Gathering in a large school hall after dark, the first evening began with feelings of anticipation and trepidation for what was to come. The hall felt too large, the change from our usual space met resistance, but the work began and we quickly settled in with three beautiful constellations.

The next morning we arrived to sunshine and a hall that felt warm and inviting thanks to the addition of softer furnishings.

Over the next two days we grew closer, stepped into the field, represented each others families and all of the joy and pain within and watched the bravery of each individual as they rose to the chair. We took breaks for tea and lots of chocolate, soup and much needed coffee and walked in the winter sunshine. In our absence the hall kept our space and on our return the hall welcomed us back, silently witnessing and solidly holding.

Sunday evening arrived and we parted ways, heading home with softer hearts and deep connections. As we left, the hall felt like an old friend, the weekend was powerful, and deeply healing and despite Barbara’s intentions, I think she may be back.