We Are Climbing Benedict's Ladder

At the lake this morning, I noticed:

The waves meeting the shore;
The leaves meeting the ground;
The water meeting the horizon.

No wonder nature helps me feel connected. No wonder it revives me.

My evening on Monday revived me, too. We had the first of a two-part formation session on the topic of humility. One of the first questions: What do you know about humility?


Well, I can easily answer the question by telling you about the roots of the word: humus, human, and all of that, but what IS humility?

Benedict devotes an entire chapter of the Rule to humility, so we know it must be important. But, what IS humility?

After we dove a little deeper and received a little guidance, we were able to say that humility is recognizing, trusting, and acting on the presence of God. We recognize God not only in ourselves, but in others, and in the world around us. We do not receive God after we work and work on our humility; no, God is here...now, calling us into relationship. The humility lives right in that.

In chapter 7, Benedict writes about the twelve steps on the ladder of humility. The first step is to consciously place my whole self in God's presence, and we go on from there. After ascending up through the twelve steps, we arrive "at the 'perfect love' of God which 'casts out fear'." So, without even going into further detail, you can probably tell that humility is the journey of a lifetime.

Besides recognition, humility also demands trust. Not only do I need to trust the God in others, but I also need to trust my own journey as just that: a journey. Things do not always make sense in the moment, but I can trust that they fit into my story.

And once I am able to trust God's presence, I suddenly become free to act, knowing that God is holding me up and calling me forward. That thing that didn't make sense a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago suddenly becomes clear given the moments that followed and the choices I made. I can act with the understanding that all my actions are part of a bigger picture.

Now, why did all of this revive me? So, so often I compartmentalize a moment in my life. I take it out of context and try to write my own text. "This happened because..." "She reacted this way because..." "It could have been different if..." No. No. No. When I do that, I remove it from the whole, the truth, where it naturally belongs. I forget about humility. These moments belong to God, not me. God's picture is BIG; I am such a small part of that picture.

Just as the waves meet the shore, just as the leaves meet the ground, just as the water meets the horizon, one moment meets the next. They are all connected in the flow of God. May we live in the flow. May we trust the flow. May we humbly join the flow.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

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