When a farmer brings in his harvest, he knows what he's invested: the blisters, the calluses, the dry throat, the aching
back, the sore feet have paid off at last. He also knows the gift he's been given, because the farmer can't make the sun shine or the rain fall. Only God can make a seed, and only he can bring it to life. So the farmer's smart enough not to sit down and eat every morsel of grain he brought in at harvest. He saves some aside for seed to plant the next season, so that God can give the gift of harvest again.
Because I see creativity as a resource that keeps on giving, I see it as a seed. A God-given gift, like a talent for creating music, or an artistic bent, or an eye for photography, or a very special friendship, or a knack for sewing or cooking, or an ability to write: each can be a seed.
American Indians had a concept of giving a gift that differed from that of the Europeans. When most of us think of gift, we think of possession. When a gift is given, one person owns the object--and to dispute that claim causes discord. But American Indians thought differently. When they thought of a gift, they thought of sharing. A gift was sacred. A gift did not belong to one person, but to the whole community. Consistently passing the gift from one hand to another, in fact, gave rise to a spirit of community. The advantage one person gains from possessing a material object cannot compare to . the spirit the gift of giving imparts.
In the spirit of sharing the creative gift that gave rise to Singing from Silence, I am praying about the most effective ways to pass the gift to the greater community. Richard Mullins was a great example of "gifted giving." He capped his annual income from his music at the level of the average American and gave the rest away. One of the great miracles of that
arrangement is that as an artist, Richard had enough income to worry about what to do with it. It just shows how great a gift he had been given.
In so many ways, I hesitate to compare myself with Richard Mullins. I don't have his talent, for one thing. For another, I'm just beginning to sell Singing from Silence, so I'm not yet even able to meet my expenses in publishing the book. There isn't any question of "average annual income" at this point, and realistically, perhaps not for years to come. Or never. But a gift from above is a gift, and I was given the gift of this very special friendship, just as I was given the ability to write the book. And so I have been given the gift of setting aside something--however modest--from what the book brings in, to share with the community. I'll ask for your prayers that I can use my responsiveness to his Spirit and the creativity God gave me to figure out the best way to do it.
I have advisors, and we are considering several spiritual and creative projects that can use a little seed money. We expect to start locally and expand the reach of giving slowly, within the means God grants. We are particularly excited about projects that are devoted to developing the spirituality and creativity of young people or children--so that their gifts can keep giving to the next generation.
Seeds for the next harvest . . .