Friday, August 3, 2007

The Seven Virtues - Charity

Charity ~ Bouguereau

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.” St. Francis of Assissi

The seven virtues are surely questionable, especially when I think of Chastity, but Charity to me is akin to godliness. I see Charity as generosity, as the gift of knowing how to selflessly give. True Charity is rare in people; I am not at all naturally generous. The only natural Charity that has ever seeped from this greedy soul is in the form of the maternal generosity that a mother feels for her children. I consider myself a generous mother as far as my natural character will possibly take me. I didn't touch my beloved coffee when I was pregnant, I nursed them for what felt like forever, I birthed them naturally, I gave my children my very body and sanity and sleep. But we all know that there is noting so special in all that, and many other mothers do so much more than I could ever imagine. Definitely more than me.

Charity is a gift of character. My husband is a rare example of Charity. MacGyver has taught me by example more than I can say about being generous and giving. He is the most naturally generous human being I have ever known. He will do any favor, lend his hands and back and heart to you if you ask, or even if you are too proud to ask. He is the single most loving father I have ever seen and could ever imagine. Children and stray dogs are drawn to him like magnets. He can make other people's babies stop crying. He can cook for you and then clear the table. He always takes the smallest piece of cake. He will lend you what you need and never expect it back again. His generosity makes people like to be in his orbit... not because they want want something, but because it just feels good.

I, on the other hand, will do favors for those I love best, but I have a hard time not feeling used if I give too many away. I will lend you my time and strength if you ask, and I will do so lovingly, but if you're too proud to ask I think that maybe you don't quite need it. I can also cook for you, but you better get up and clear the table! I hate that part! As for the smallest piece of cake, for years I have been undertaking a private spiritual exercise as I serve meals, trying valiantly to give the best portions to others, not always successfully. And if someone is in my orbit, I'm sure they want to steal something from me... maybe my very soul.

This morning my children and I spoke to MacGyver in Italy on the computer with a webcam. There was something about seeing him there that made me want to cry (which I did), not because I missed him, but because those people (his family) were near him and I wasn't. Oh the shame of feeling like that and not being able to help it! When my children finished speaking to their father and came down the stairs, my little Dana had tears in his eyes and splotches on his cheeks. When I told him that it was OK, that we all missed papà, he began to fume as only he can and said that was definitely not why he was crying. He was crying because his only Italian nephew, an only child with an absent father who spends most of his time in church instead of with his son, was sitting next to MacGyver as we spoke to him. He said that he was uncontrollably jealous, and that he wasn't about to lend his father to anyone. He's mine and Jonah's! And then my wise elder son of 12, so like his father, put his arm around his impassioned brother and said, "But he's ours forever."

Poor Dana, so like his mother!

Charity is as close to God as we get, I believe.


Rebecca said...

another fantastic, thought-provoking post!

sognatrice said...

You, your husband, and your children are truly amazing; I love that your son was able to verbalize what he was feeling--I'm not sure many adults even could in a similar situation. Then for your other son to lead him to the answer...just lovely :)

jennifer said...

Thanks Rebecca- I really loved yours yesterday, too.
Hi sognatrice- I think my kids and husband are pretty amazing, too. I usually feel like the bystander. In my experience, children can really let it all out there better than adults. Thank you so much.

anno said...

I enjoy these stories from your family so much -- beautiful post!

Jen said...

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful post, Jennifer. And very courageous. And what a treasure you have, not only in MacGuyver, but in your sons.

Brillig said...

Once again, this is fantastic. I relate to this so much--I feel like I'm the way you describe yourself, where my husband is a lot like yours--so loving, so giving, always there for absolutely anyone who needs anything.

And I love your take on charity. I really do think that it's the most god-like attribute. You can do all sorts of good things, but without charity, I don't know that any of it matters.

Love this post!

Karenkool said...

This was an amazing read. You put into words some certain thoughts that were floating around my head today. I feel far from that place of charity, where I formerly lived. Life's disappointments, I suppose, have tainted my world view. I wish I knew how to get back. It was a far better place to live. And then again, don't we tend to think upon our former mountain top days with a glorified notion? Hmmmm...