"One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection. When we say, "If people really knew me, they wouldn't love me," we choose the road toward darkness. Often we are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite of self-deprecation. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God's eyes and that all we are is pure gift. To grow beyond self-rejection we must have the courage to listen to the voice calling us God's beloved sons and daughters, and the determination always to live our lives according to this truth." Henri Nouwen.
A friend sent me this quote. It came at just the right time because I had been thinking about this very topic! My fractured thoughts...........
Humility is a complicated concept to describe, yet it seems to be the most simplified levelling way to be. Living, thinking, feeling, breathing, acting with a sense of quiet modesty? Its not something you can openly aspire to "be." Or is it? No one announces: "My New Year's Resolution is to lose 20 pounds and be humble by March 1rst." Or, how about..... "Look at me! I'm so darn humble!" No, a person who would be described as having a presence of humility has no ego-driven arrogance around them. Rather, it is more of an unspoken (because it doesn't need to be broadcasted) realness...... an authentic respect for themselves and others. Humility is an equalizer.
Based on Nouwen's interpretation that humility is not the same as self-deprecation, can you think of anyone in your life whom you would describe as a humble? There are a few people that come to mind right away. Automatically thoughts of them bring a grin to my face and a knowledge that whenever I see them, I want to be near them.
We describe these people as "salt of the earth...." They are "comfortable in their own skin...."
It's like they have these massaging waves of comforting energy wafting out of them that affirm you. Friendly, balanced, forthright in what they believe in, respectful of other's thoughts and feelings, receptive to listening, kind, aware, keen to learn ...... Sure, they can be spontaneous. Yes, they can express anger and frustration especially when it has to do with justice. The thing about someone who would be described as humble is that when they seek justice, they also measure their responses with kindness. Quietly. Without showmanship.
Comfortably from the earth.
Balanced in time and place.
Contentment with self.
Confidence in others.
Believes answers may never be found
Embraces the mystery under the cloud of unknowing....
Always barefooted in the sand, walking along the shoreline, living freely in that moment.
Receptive to beauty in all things.
Justice sprinkled with kindness.
May we taste its salty presence from time to time.......
Beach in Souris, PEI, May 2010
where humility met up with a seeker