When I think of my life as an artist...maybe as a child of God in it's entirety, I think of a life that has been self-focused. How incredible, shocking, upsetting, unsettling, etc., it is to know that I have a family and still, at the end of the day, I am focused more on me than on anyone else.
I started thinking about the world charity today. In Websters dictionary, the first definition of charity is: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity. In my head, Charity was a word often reserved for nuns and Charles Dickens, but the more I think about it, the more I am moved by it. It's different than humility for that is an act of losing oneself, it is different than hospitality for that is an act of meeting the base needs of food and shelter, etc....truly helping someone out. Charity is a purposeful good work of pure love toward another human being. But what I find interesting about charity is that the person who benefits is both giver and receiver. Charity, in giving financially, allows the giver to fulfill the financial woes of another BUT what is interesting is the giver BECOMES the receiver. The giver is filled with Godly Joy because of their giving and then it becomes addictive, addictive joy and charity. It is a beautiful puzzle that is complicated and simple at the same time...much like our God. The Great Creator who is also a small whisper.
I have seen artists struggling with charity. Much of the time because they need the charity given to them. The starving artist is a tough row to hoe. But artists sometimes forget that they supply the world with light and beauty. They make cosmos from chaos, they make the mystery of God tangible and the challenges of the human psyche understandable. If artists could consider the work they do truly charitable, the work itself would change. The work would become more important, it would die to itself so that others may live. The work of art would be a sacrifice for the love of humanity and the artist would get a glimpse of Godly grace in that moment.
Artists egos can destroy their perception of charity. Artists can be so self involved working on their work. If they would only realize it was never their work to begin with. Even though ego and self-focus runs rampant among artists, every artist I meet wants to "give back" to the world. What a conundrum. Perhaps if we reoriented our thinking about the material stuff of charity...that it isn't about giving money to the poor, it's about giving hope to the poor in spirit. And in doing so, the giver's spirit is also raised from poverty to wealth unimaginable.
I spoke that charity was a word reserved for nuns and Dicken's... well, maybe I should pay more attention to what those nuns and Chales Dicken's were really trying to do.