What It Means to Be Humble

The theme of humility has come up frequently in my reading (and some of my writing) or late. Yesterday I came across Jessica Powers’ poem, Humility. (Powers, who died in 1988, was a Carmelite nun, also known as Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit.) I love the way she expresses what it means to be humble.

Humility is to be still
under the weathers of God’s will.
It is to have no hurt surprise
when morning’s ruddy promise dies,
when wind and drought destroy, or sweet
spring rains apostatize in sleet,
or when the mind and month remark
a superfluity of dark.
It is to have no troubled care
for human weathers anywhere.
And yet it is to take the good
with the warm hands of gratitude.
Humility is to have place
deep in the secret of God’s face
where one can know, past all surmise,
that God’s great will alone is wise,
where one is loved, where one can trust
a strength not circumscribed by dust.
It is to have a place to hide
when all is hurricane outside.

No hurt surprise when things don’t go the way we anticipate they should. Gratitude when they do. Acceptance of what is, as well as the security of God’s promise that (to use the words of God’s promise to Julian of Norwich) “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

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