The benefits of charity are twofold. Firstly it helps alleviate the struggles of those receiving the gift, secondly it connects the giver in communion with those whom in a well-founded society fall within their responsibility to protect from want, suffering, anguish or discrimination, willful or accidental. The former benefits are well acknowledged and illustrated, the latter is undervalued and misunderstood, oft seen as a form of penance or pomposity, perhaps self-aggrandizement, an outward sign of worth, a vain attempt at a simple redistribution of excess. That charity is a two-way street with aggressive benefits equally divided betwixt receiver and giver is generally overlooked. We do nor donate, we effectively buy restitution, we do not give relief we accept release. We are forgiven a perceived debt owed simply by the receiver accepting our gift, however mundane. Consecration through ritual.
This is not criticism, purely observation; my step is also lighter after a short visit to the poor box on the way to my redemptive pew.
To the thirsty a thimble full of water is charity, to the hungry a crust of stale bread is charity, to the weary struggling homeward after a hard day’s labor right of passage is the ideal act of charity. To the damaged, the righteous, the act of succor itself is charity. Do not attempt to package charity into one house, it is a mansion with a innumerable rooms of parity and doors leading inwards and out.
Social custom has made the giving of a charitable donation an substitute for celebratory gifts a highly acceptable display of consideration. I whole heartedly admire and acknowledge the intent of this practice and long may it prosper. Yesterday was my birthday, an event whilst predictably annual had on this occasion a particularly poignant reason for celebration. I have ever counted my growth by the decade, ten years seeming to me a reasonable time to allow for some memorable occurrence to transpire, positive of negative, singular or on occasion in multiple. Seven is a number we recognize as having magical qualities, this year’s anniversary completes my seventh decade.
I have no design upon your fortune, your wealth remains uncalled upon. The indulgence I ask of you my friends, my acquaintances, my patient readers, is far simpler, and hopefully an act of blessed two-fold charity. Sometime today take but five minutes from your busy schedule and using five of your probably limitless cell phone minutes call a relative, a perhaps long missed friend and share a however brief exchange of conversation and charity.
As for me, I will be listening hard a le Clarence Odbody, that immortalized guardian angel, for the twinkling of a thousand bells donating the accomplishment of truly august goals.