I’m reading the autobiography of the singer Johnny Cash. His mother always referred to his voice as ‘the gift’: ‘…I think she did it on purpose, to remind me that the music in me was something special given by God. My job was to care for it and use it well; I was its bearer, not its owner.’
Those concerned about our environment think this way; we don’t own the world – we’re looking after it.
Similarly those described as ‘key workers’, working in health-care, education, scientific research have ‘gifts’ that are nurtured and developed for the benefit of all.
But… we live in a world that’s self-centred and consumer based. I buy what I want, consume what I want, look after myself, enjoy myself and make my life comfortable.
Remember the song made famous by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise?
Bring me sunshine in your smile bring me laughter all the while
In this world where we live there should be more happiness
So much joy you can give to each brand new bright tomorrow
Make me happy through the years never bring me any tears
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above
Bring me fun bring me sunshine and bring me love
The superficial ‘Bring me sunshine’ mentality wants tear-free happiness; every day’s a bundle of laughter. ‘I want’ deserves and should get.
The alternative is to adopt Johnny’s Mum’s view. I’m ‘the bearer not the owner’ of my gifts and talents. I’m a steward who has everything on trust. I’m not here to receive but to give.
I live the selfless, other-centred prayer of St Francis that concludes: ‘…Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.’