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Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Call to Charity

A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. 
- Jack London

In a letter that I had once submitted to the editor of a local newspaper, I had issued a call to question. A call to question that of which is, and is not, most familiar to us. To take a critical look at what we believe as individuals, communities and a nation as a whole. A call to question our intents, desires and goals within what we each believe, how we act and what we say. While I believe that the question, and the practicing thereof, is vital, how we go about it may be the most important calling to consider. In fact, it may indeed be the most important detail required of us; so much so that it must take precedence over the very practice of questioning itself. 

What is it that supersedes the question and bears such importance?
What is the calling that we must follow?

Charity.

Charity is not simply the giving of financial assistance to some charitable organization, whether it be in your community or abroad.   It is not simply the feeding of the hungry, the clothing of the naked, nor the assisting of the burdened. Rather the call of Charity beckons to the deepest parts of who we are, the parts of ourselves that we reject, put aside or try to forget. Charity calls us to love all aspects of who we are, who we have been and who we will become. Charity looks upon our seemingly failures and draws our attention away from hatred towards ourselves to the forgiveness and acceptance of ourselves. Charity understands that our failures, our short fallings are but tools toward our becoming, and that without the call to be charitable to these blunders we fail not only be charitable to ourselves but to extend the loving, compassionate hand of charity to those of whom we encounter. The call to Charity is the understanding that in order to bestow charity to others we must first bestow it upon ourselves. How can a ship reach its destination if the broken rudder has not been attended to? Does the patient heal the physician, or does the physician heal the patient? How much more one can help to heal the addiction of another when they themselves have healed their own. 

I have discovered, more often than not, that the very things that drive me to utter rage about others are the very things that I loathe about myself. What I detest in others, I detest within myself. 
It is easy enough to give money to an organization that assists the needs of the poor in some third world country. It is easy enough to give food to the local food bank in order to assist in the feeding of the hungry. It is easy enough to voice our outrage at some injustice committed upon another individual or group of human beings. Why is it then, that we continually fail to bestow the same charitable outlook upon the very vessel with which we give our charity? 

I can think of no greater call then that of the call to charity. To see the other, whether friend or foe, as intrinsically valuable. To enter all conversation with respect and esteem for those of whom you are in dialogue with. To embrace them as precious, dear and worthy of mind. Giving to them, freely, the space to hold opinion. Expressing, not only for the sake of oneself, but rather, for the whole of community. While in our charity we must never forget, not only those present, but those at large; those of whom have not yet received such charity or come by it meagrely.

While adhering to the call to charity, one must not neglect the criticalness of giving charity to one's own-self. This is often the most difficult of all; to be charitable to oneself, but as it is with all things difficult, it is most rewarding not only to oneself, but also to that of others. Charity is not solely valuing and considering the other but also ourselves. It is not a submission to that of another, but rather a joining together in conversation, that of each owns' hearts and minds. Charity is not a dumbing down of who we are and what we believe, rather, it allows for the growth thereof within community.

Charity must always lay forefront to the question, always remaining present during and after the question is put forth.


3 comments:

Amy said...

Woow your quote and thoughts here are powerful! I was thinking as I read of the awareness of the utter sacredness of all humanity... of realizing I am my brother and my brother is me. We are so so connected as human beings, and like you have shared so beautifully here, and we mirror each other. What I see in another, is what is in me. In doing shadow work, that was a really hard concept for me to accept. but the more I practice it, the more I learn to love what I have deemed the unlovely parts of myself, the more I love and accept others. It's so wild! But wow what a glorious freedom it is. I seriously love this knowledge...realizing that if I were raised at that other person, with their brain and all the equipment they have, I could too think and survive and act as they do as well. To offer charity is to recognize another's humanity in ourselves. Woow.. so powerful. Thanks for this reminder today.

Philip CalledtoQuestion said...

Amy,

Thanks Amy. I was wondering, with your experience in the church and Christianity, what your thoughts are on why this type of thinking is not taught or even discouraged within Christian circles? What is it about loving ourselves, that Christians are so nervous to do? We are constantly told to deny ourselves and sacrifice ourselves, as though we are some evil to suppress and reject. Doesn't seem very healthy to me.

Amy said...

Yeah I think the definition is really fucked up in the sense that to be like Jesus is to die to yourself is to be anything but the sin filled human that we are. It's a really sick teaching. I have had to realize that to be like Jesus is to be like me. The being holy is being wholly me. Whole. As God is whole.
It's been a whole lot of reconditioning and redefining this whole area of God and who I am in all of this. Still a work in progress.. lol!