Each month, we together for a time of spiritual reflection to discuss one of our 12 rules of life. These are the values and principles that we live by in community. This month, we reflected on humility, defined in our rule as: living one’s life in perspective, in a commitment to assess and honor one’s own gifts and those of others.
I had always thought of humility as making oneself low or less, but never thought of it as honoring our own self-worth as our definition suggests. Our facilitator pointed out that the word humility originates from “humus” (earth) or being “of the earth. In this vein, maybe being humble is coming to terms with the fragility and limitations of our humanity while also realizing and accepting our gifts and those of others. I like of idea that humility allows me to just be who I am, not trying to be more or less. To know what I am and what I am not is freeing. I don’t need to put on airs or lack self-esteem. I can step up when necessary and operate in my strengths. I can recognize when I am out of my league and I can do simple things like scrubbing a toilet without feeling degraded.
During our time together, we reflected on the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi and the Beatitudes. “Wabi Sabi” embraces beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” Wabi-sabi finds the most basic, natural objects interesting, fascinating and beautiful. We had pictures of Japanese pottery with gold lined cracks. They were broken and put back together, but the cracks are what made it lovely. I recalled a walk I went on a few months back, taking pictures of things that were imperfect to find the hidden beauty in them. There was an abandoned brownstone with cracked windows and vines up and down its side, a cracked foundation with a plant growing up and out of it and then the cracks and humps in the brick sidewalk that made the landscape more interested to traverse. There was much to find that was broken, even more delightful to search for the beauty in it. Similarly, on my trip around the world, I often found the most beauty in the lowest places, like slums and orphanages or “of the earth” in the most natural landscapes. Those are the Wabi Sabi memories that I cherish, the people and conversations I had in those place are forever etched in my mind and heart. I can call them Beautiful Brokenness
Next, we read the Beatitudes to witness how God seems to bless the least, last and those who are lowly…the poor, meek and persecuted. Jesus makes it a point to be amongst those on the fringes of society. Last Monday, I heard a speaker refer to Christ as the “down low God.” A God who comes down to our level to see into us, eye to eye in relationship. He also blesses us. Likewise, our reflective assignment was to think of our own small or imperfect places and bless them. I wrote my own Beatitudes, thinking of myself, those close to me and humble people and places I encountered oversees in which their struggle was a blessing.
Blessed are those who journey, seek and search, they shall encounter God in many people, places and many times within themselves.
Blessed are the widows who care for orphans, they shall give abundantly out of their poverty.
Blessed are the children of slums, they are like treasures hidden in mines.
Blessed are those who have been deeply wounded, their wounds shall provide healing for the nations.
Blessed are those with worried and wandering minds, they shall have the one thousand opportunities to return to God.
Blessed are those who walk alone in the dark, God shall be their guidepost and companion.
Blessed are those who linger in uncertainly, they shall be invited into the mystery of God.
Blessed are those who have lost themselves and disintegrated in the unknowing, divine hands shall find them and put them back together, more whole and holy.