Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Art of Giving and the Giving of Art

Some years ago, I experienced what everyone dreads: the loss of my mother, to cancer. It was a horribly painful experience for my family, but it had its positive side: The most important things in life, love and family, were brought back into focus, drawing us together. My older sister and I, borderline workaholics, left our jobs in North Carolina in the dust to come to my mother's side in West Virginia. My sister-in-law devoted a great deal of her time to care for Mom's personal needs. My father, always a loving husband, provided 24-hour care for Mom that displayed the immense depth of his devotion. Our daily cares and travails were completely insignificant in the face of this situation. We were needed to take care of the person who gave us life, love and support, and who made us who we are.

One of the things my mother made me is an artist. I was incredibly fortunate not only to inherit the special gift for art that she had, but also to have her support and expertise to help me develop it. Anyone who knew my mom knew that she would always help whenever she could, and one of the things for which she was most sought after was her creativity. She contributed artistic flourishes to many a church or social organization's project, giving many hours of her time and talent for free or for the cost of materials only. She has produced beautiful sculpture and murals that have been seen by thousands of people and that will survive as a monument to her love of art and her generosity of spirit.

This has, of course, made a great impression on me. I feel as though she has passed along a wonderful gift to me, and I would love to make the kind of positive contributions to society that Mom has made. Even though she has passed on to her next adventure, she has given us her art by which we can remember her goodness and her lifelong practice of the art of giving.

We should never miss an opportunity to draw close to our loved ones, to reaffirm our dream of peace on Earth and love among all creatures. We practice the art of giving, not only of presents on birthdays and holidays, but also of our hopes and dreams to the next generation, of our charity and care to those less fortunate, and hopefully, we can fulfill our purpose on Earth by doing something to improve our world. Not everyone is an artist, but we all have some special gift to bestow, and the art of giving is the highest measure of humanity.

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