Saturday, August 26, 2006

WORD UP! Hooray! It's time for a new addition to The Heart of Things blog! Along with such classics (and I use that term very loosely) as Masterpiece Monday, Filmables, and the Mission Moment quote of the week, I now introduce "WORD UP!" - an occasional attempt to redeem the meaning of words! Without a doubt, many of the words we use today have had the soul taken right out of them by a culture that often just can't get beyond the surface of things. Words like love, passion, purity, and God can sometimes fall like empty shells on our modern ears. We think we know what they mean, so the rich seed within is left to wither. But we've got to get to the heart of things, remembering that words are like jewels to be treasured and never tossed around lightly. The WORD UP! for today is humility. Today's gospel is from Matthew 23, and the last line is well known to most: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Now I think the smeared lens through which we can view the word humility often leaves us thinking that it means, "to be walked upon like a doormat." Or to be humble means to have a low opinion of yourself, to always demean yourself when complimented. You're 6'3" and someone says "Wow, you're really tall!" and you reply with downcast eyes, "Oh, I'm really 5'6"" Or an admirer watching Michelangelo finish his last stroke in the Sistine Chapel says "Unbelievable! What an amazing gift you have!" and Michelangelo sheepishly replies. "Really, it's nothing..." What the!? Nooooooo!!! The fact of the matter is HUMILITY IS TRUTH! I heard an explanation once of the roots of this word humility. It comes from the Latin humus which means earth. Humus is the rich, dark soil that's left when it has broken down and been purified. The Greek root would be chamaii, meaning on the ground. So humility is not puffing oneself up and placing oneself on a mountaintop (Woohoo! Look at me everyone!) and it's not digging a hole in the ground and burying yourself in it either; hiding under a bushel basket as if the beauty that's in you wasn't really in you. Humility is to stand on the ground of who you are. No pretenses, no puffing up, and no self-deflating remarks either. HUMILITY IS TRUTH! And what a freedom there is in true humility. It's accepting ourselves for who we are, and in that acceptance of our own reality, in true humility, we send down roots into the rich, dark soil of our humanity. Then we let our gifts spread up and out like branches into the wide air all about us. And we are free! The truth has set us free! Now others can see the good that God has done in creating us, each unique and unrepeatable in the cosmic stream of human existence. Humility then is the grounded acceptance of our own deepest identity: we are creatures created and redeemed by a loving God, who Himself was humbled so that we could be exalted! True humility is born when we receive ourselves in this truth. Here's an excellent thought from Marianne Williamson to close: "There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
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