A Couple of Takes on Humility

My studio is getting cluttered again, mostly with books, papers, and artwork in progress. In some ways, that’s as it should be, but the clutter tends to seep into my mind and muddle my thoughts. Today is the day to make a dent in the mess. Towards that end, I’m dealing with some of the leaves from old issues of Magnificat that I’ve kept around for one reason or another. First, comes a meditation by Caryll Houselander, who always seems to speak to me:

To accept oneself as one is [is] to accept life as it is: these are the two basic elements of childhood’s simplicity and humility. But it is one thing to say this and another to do it. What is involved? First of all, it involves the abandoning of all unreality in ourselves. But even granted that we have the courage to face ourselves and to root out every trace of pretense, how shall we then tolerate the emptiness, the insignificance, that we built up our elaborate pretense to cover?

The answer is simple. If we are afraid to know ourselves for what we are, it is because we have not the least idea of what that is. It is because we have not the least idea of the miracle of life-giving love that we are. There is no pretense that can approach the wonder of the truth about us, no unreality that comes anywhere near the reality.

We are “other Christs.” Our destiny is to live the Christ-life: to bring Christ’s life into the world; to increase Christ’s love in the world; to give Christ’s peace to the world. …

The acceptance of life as it is must teach us trust and humility. This is because every real experience of life is an experience of God. Every experience of God makes us realize our littleness, our need, our nothingness, but at the same time the miracle of Christ in us. Not only are we one of God’s creatures—which is in itself a guarantee of his eternal creating love—but we are also his Christ, his only Son, the sole object of his whole love. These two facts balance the scales of trust: our nothingness and our allness.

The second mediation I found in my hands comes from Father Tadeusz Dajczer:

The Chosen People discovered in their own weakness the true mystery of God. If you experience your weakness, then you are called by God to throw yourself into his merciful arms. You experience the desert in your life so that you will turn toward the one who is mercy himself.

Experiencing the desert will help you to discover the need for God, and to know that you are completely dependent on him. During this time, when you go through very difficult hours of discouragement, temptation, and darkness, you will better understand your own helplessness and powerlessness. When you discover the truth about yourself and ask God for forgiveness, you will find, just as the Prodigal Son did, great tenderness in the Father and his extreme joy upon your return. You will be able to look into his eyes full of love. In forgiving you, God will, at the same time, bring about humility within you.

The desert is not a dwelling place; it is only a path, a road on which one comes to know the merciful love of God. Everyone who seeks God must pass through it since the experience of the desert is closely related to the deepening of our faith in his mercy.

A desert experience is a time when a person becomes formed according to the rule that only what is difficult and gives resistance molds a person. The love of God, which is then born in you, should finally become communion with God.

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