Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the beauty and love around you that you started to cry?
We hear about humility in TiredChristianity, and we don’t always know what it means. We think humility is being underneath someone’s thumb, we think it’s bowing down before a power structure, we think it’s sacrifice or inferiority.
Humility is being overwhelmed with the vastness and richness and beauty that exists in every moment. Humility is recognizing that in every turn of your life, there is an unbelievable—but believable!—gorgeousness of humanity and brilliance and the God-essence in all things.
We get to humility by getting close to the ground. So in those moments when you’re shattered and broken open and confused, get on the ground, sister. Let your knees and your forehead and the palms of your hands touch the floor. It’s the only thing you can do to understand what’s what in this life.
But oh my God, the egos we have! The resistance we have to seeing what’s true! We put ourselves at the center of the world, we think the world operates according to the frameworks of our own minds, the stories we tell ourselves, the pain we think we have that elevates us above other people! So stop coming up with stories about yourself and about others. Get beyond your narratives. That’s the only way to be and let be.
SexyJesus was a humble person. Let’s keep this in mind. He wasn’t humble because he was a carpenter, or because he was homeless, which surely helped. He was humble because he was, every day, impressed and moved and touched by the faith of the people around him. He saw the suffering in the world, and he wanted to do something to help. He offered himself, wholly and fully, into that suffering, and into his own strength to help heal others. And he became. He acted. He was.
We have this serious problem that makes us assume money and status and education make someone better than anyone else. We have a real problem when we think that the people with stock investments and big bank accounts and nice houses matter more than the people cutting the Christmas tree off the stand and tying it to your car and wishing you a good day. Oh my, give me a man who works with his hands over a stockbroker any day.
It is easier to be humble when you’ve been beaten down, when you’ve been shattered and bruised by life. This doesn’t mean you actually are humble. Plenty of people who have been hurt have a certain degree of pride that holds them back, a pride of refusing to admit that they’re vulnerable or weak, a pride that makes them shut other people out, a pride they hold onto that makes them angry and vengeful. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the people who have been put upon and put upon and put upon, but their faith and their belief in love and kindness, those simple kindergarten rules, gets them up in the morning. They take care of their aging parents and they help you find a parking spot, and they ask you how your day is and they wish you well. And they have very little financial wealth or opportunity, but they know how to pray. Those people are your priests. Listen to them.
The more “prestige” and “success” you acquire, the harder it is to get into that simple place. I’m not saying you can’t get there. Plenty of people with wealth and success are beautiful, kind-hearted people, and I know and love them. I’m just saying they had to do a bit more work to get humble, to get on the ground. They had to have their share of suffering to know what’s what in life. But something made them get out of their heads and get into their hearts and the souls of their feet, and they cracked open, and they learned what it took to make a person new, and they gave back.
So I want to end this by telling you about a man who was my teacher. I never learned his name. I didn’t speak his language. He taught me by using his hands.
I was at a cafe. I ordered too much food, and it was sitting in front of me, untouched, because I didn’t know what to do with it. I was writing, and I had a lot of ideas, which I’m prone to. And he wandered by, holding out his hands and pointing to his lips, gesturing to the two women in front of me for food. They shook their heads no. (Those women were quite attractive.) Then he moved on to a group of men who were laughing and holding out their arms wide, smoking cigarettes (this was Paris), baskets of baguette in front of them. He gestured to them, too, but they shook their heads and looked the other way.
I called him over. I am not telling you this to suggest I am the good one, the holy one. I am telling you this because when I prayed to God about my worries over money, about how I was going to make a good living and provide a stable home for my kids, She started showing me homeless people who simply needed a meal. And I’m a good listener, so I got the message.
I showed the man my plate and raised my eyebrows. This was gooey cheese with honey on the top, and a stack of three toasted pieces of bread. I lifted my dish and held it up to him. He shook his head. It was too much, he seemed to be saying. So I looked around. I wanted to get him something, but I didn’t know what. I looked back to my plate, back to him. He made a gesture with his fingers. A little bit. So I took a chunk of the toasted baguette, and I dipped my spoon into the gooey cheesiness from the ramekin, and I spread it that cheese, dripping with honey, onto the toast. And I handed it over, and he ate, and he put his hands together in prayer and walked away.
You should do that too, if you don’t already. Both parts.