HUMILITY BY DONNA DAY © 2023
While there is encouragement all around us to judge and proclaim others inadequate, at fault, or less clever than we, there is no joy, love, or peace in such a world; there is only misery and competition. Feeling compelled to be important leads us to overlook remarkable qualities in others and miss out on the joy of learning from them. Humility guides us away from posturing as an ego to blossoming into promoting and helping others.
Learning from the lives and thoughts of others enriches us with opportunities to know and understand more than we would on our own. This simple sentence from C.S. Lewis shows us a way to become and remain humble:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
It’s thinking of yourself less.”
C. S. Lewis
Peace Pilgrim taught humility through the way she lived. In order to keep the focus on peace rather than herself, she dropped the name she was given at birth (Mildred Lisette Norman) to become Peace Pilgrim. She believed the purpose of life was to serve and she did so by giving away her worldly possessions and walking 25,000 miles around the US to promote peace clothed in a simple tunic, pants, and inexpensive sneakers. Her messages of peace and love remain with us and continue to inspire and motivate us all to lives of compassion, kindness, and peace.
Noble Peace Prize winner Albert Sweitzer also lived a humble life of service. After becoming a Physician, he moved from his home in Germany to Gabon, a country in Central Africia where he built and ran a hospital at the mission station in Lambarene. His advice to us was: “I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”
Peace Pilgrim and Dr. Sweitzer did not speak of the great honors they each earned, or of their lofty accomplishments, but spoke of serving, helping, and caring for others. They were ambassadors of brotherhood, love, and peace.
We can live as they did, focused on others and their needs. We can
- Recognize our weaknesses.
- Let go of judgments.
- Express our gratitude to Divine Source, our ancestors, mentors, guides, and to everyone we meet. As my friend Jewell would say, “Everyone is my teacher.”
- Focus on the needs of others and help however we can.
- Spotlight the talents and brilliance of others.
- Savor our peaceful place within the tapestry of life and our oneness with all that is.
Looking through my photos for one which spoke of humility led to a favorite flower of mine, a Pine-hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii). This flower personifies humility in its unpretentious name, easy-to-overlook presence despite its overwhelming beauty in colors of lilac, purple, green, white, and reddish brown. The soft texture of its stem shimmers in the light and its gentle pose suggests a head bowed in humble deference. May we be so, sending our Light, Love, and Peace to all without fanfare.
No more separate
special little me
Humility begets a peaceful world
Reflections: Looking back, I see myself as a little girl who lived in awe, seeing all as a miracle and felt her small, comfortable place in an awesome world with blessings and kindness everywhere. Along the line, I learned I was “supposed to be” clever and outshine everyone else; that was the purpose of life. Perfectionism grew within me and became a terrible burden since it led me to always feel “not good enough.” Such misery allowed self-aggrandizement to grow within my scared self and made me more uncomfortable. I remember being asked a question and feeling compelled to have an answer and so making a guess, rather than speaking the humble truth: “I do not know.”
Despite voices in my life telling me to “win,” and despite plenty of “winning,” none of it never quite worked or felt right. I was happy when I helped others, was in the woods, and was focused on being a small part of a magnificent creation. Grateful to say, joy, and humility have won my heart and continue to help me heal. I rejoice in the joy, freedom, and peace that I feel now as I can, and do, speak the words: “I do not know.” No bolts of lightning strike me down, no one throws tomatoes, and no one cares! Was all my posturing simply to impress others because I was not impressed by myself? Whatever the motivation, the more I focus on what is the highest and best good for all involved in whatever situation, the more I become an ambassador of loving kindness and peace and the more peaceful I am.
Your turn to reflect – Do you remember a time when you were pretentious, or felt you needed to win or impress someone? How did you feel? How might humility serve you now?
Thank you for being a vital part of Peace on Earth by nurturing peace in your heart, in your life. The more that you embody peace, the more peace there is.
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“When huge trees are uprooted by a cyclone and tall buildings collapse,
the grass remains,
such is the greatness of humility.”
I chose this photo because Pine-hyacinths are fabulously gorgeous and incredibly easy to overlook in a garden or woods setting as they are only about a foot tall and manage to blend so perfectly with their environment. They are the epitome of humility, being perfect and magnificent in themselves and yet bowing their heads down in prayerful blessings for others.
Photo of Pine-hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii) taken at T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Reserve
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