Do you like charity shops? I do – it’s such a great way to recycle nice things that you don’t need any more, and to find unusual things that you don’t find in high street stores. They are also an essential source of income for the charities they support. That’s why it’s so sad to see that some charities have had to close through lack of funds, mainly from these shops that have had to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There’s a familiar proverb which says ‘Charity Begins at Home’ and some people think this means you should look after your own family or country and not worry about others. But that’s not really what it means.
I recently read a very interesting article about charity by Bishop Martin Seeley. He discovered that the first time the saying was recorded in print was in 1642 in a book by Sir Thomas Browne, a doctor, philosopher and botanist who lived from 1636 to 1682. He wrote, “But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves?”, and goes on to say, “Charity begins at home”. He is reflecting on the need for our capacity to love and care to be developed in us so that we can then show love and care for others. This is much more outward looking than inward looking.
Bishop Martin Seeley goes on to write that the word ‘charity’ means love, and love is the foundation of a good home. It is the power that builds relationships and makes us place others before ourselves. Love means that we go out of our way to make sure that the lives of those around us are the best they can be. Thomas Browne’s point is that love doesn’t stop there but reaches further out to help the lives of those beyond us be the best they can be. This is why groups and organisations that exist to help those in need are called charities.
So, as charity shops re-open safely, see if you can donate to buy from them in order to help the charities they support and keep alive their outgoing work of love and care for others.