Wednesday, July 18, 2012


As many of you know, I am a Secular Franciscan. One of the hallmarks of the Franciscan lifestyle is simple living. This does not mean that as a lay Franciscan I cannot own things. It means that I strive to live my life in relationship and detach from possession. What does that mean, exactly? It means that I can enjoy things I do not own for their beauty without feeling I have to have them. I can use things and not own them, like reading books from the library. I can give away things that I own when someone else can make better use of them. I can live with less, focusing more on relationships.

My mother was a wonderful example of living this type of life, though she was not a Franciscan. Towards the end of her life, she "broke up house," as they used to say, and moved to an assisted living facility. She was still healthy enough to enjoy a variety of things, and with her large family, rarely had a chance to encounter boredom. The thing that amazed and enlightened me, however, was the fact that she gave up a four bedroom home, with a full basement, and all of the accompanying stuff to move to one room that served as her bedroom, living space, included a bath, and held all her storage in built-in cabinets. This was not the first time she gave up things without any fuss, but it was the eye-opener for me.

One of the things that Mom taught me was that it is possible to have things, even very nice things, without having a need to possess them. At the same time, she taught me that one should always consider whether someone else needs what we have more than we do. Finally, she taught me that it is possible to have enough, even if one doesn't have everything the advertisers say we "need" or the "Joneses" have more than you do, and have a good life.

What I am still trying to discern is what this lifestyle means in terms of my art. It comes back to a question of what is necessary. One could certainly argue that making and viewing art is necessary, since humans have been doing so since living in caves. There is something about artwork that stirs our souls. My particular role in the making and distribution of art is what I question. There are so many wonderful artists in our world. Do I have anything to offer that cannot be provided by someone else? If I do, what form should it take? Would it be better for me to create beauty in practical things and give them away? Should I create artwork to sell and offer to a wider audience?

I know that I am blessed in the fact that I can ask these questions. I am not confined by a need to create for income (at this point) nor do I have to take a day job just to pay the bills. That, too, is part of my quandry. Yet, I have a need to create things of beauty, and so my dilemma.

I'm off to ponder my issues. Until next time, I wish you peace and all good.

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