The inclination began as I was listening to a Liturgist podcast entitled God Our Mother. Christina Cleveland was interviewed and, at one point, explained that part of the nature of God is the quality of moving toward the soil and mess of life—like a mother. Cleveland suggested that the sacred masculine transcends, while the sacred feminine draws near. That’s what mother’s do, right? Not that fathers never change dirty diapers or wipe slimy noses, yet it was/is my quick instinct to move toward my children and now my grandchildren and do those things for them. And by example, my mom was never put off by crouching down into the dirty corners and leaning into the grimy ledges of hearth and home to scrub them clean. In similar fashion, I want to move toward the mess of another’s life and heart, as well as my own, rather than keep a safe distance. To embrace humus, I want to live close to the earth and work the soil of real life.
The second pull toward this family of words came as I was writing this year’s Advent retreat guide. I was reading a book called Fully Human, Fully Divine by Michael Casey. In it, Casey makes a convincing appeal that Jesus is far more human than we give him credit. We often airbrush his interactions and reactions because we believe that his humanity isn’t fitting with his deity. Yet I find this very human, earthy Jesus more relatable than the stoic, pristine one. Just as I’m attracted to a humble person, I’m attracted to him who is “gentle and humble in heart.” Jesus’ solidarity with me in my humanity gives me great comfort and confidence that I can be myself with him.
Finally, the last confirmation has to do with my own brokenness and need for humility. As a 2 on the Enneagram, my core sin is pride. It’s not as much the “look at me—I’m so great,” variety of pride as it is the “need me because I’m indispensable to you and your cause” version. I often have an elevated sense of my own necessity or importance and I’m sorrowfully aware of this undertone in my life. I call it an undertone because…I wouldn’t want you to see this horrid attitude, now would I? Shame always instills a reflex to hide, especially such a despicable attitude like pride. So, I’m praying for humus to work its way into me and instill humility at a deep, honest level. (Humility means to be “brought low or level,” hence to stand on level ground with all humanity and see others at eye level.)
So, as I live into this family of words, the way it works for me is to simply pay attention to occasions when this word comes across my attention. Maybe I notice it in a book, or read it in the Bible, or someone I know exhibits humility or talks about it. Because I have a heightened awareness to this family of words, I can be more open and cooperative to God’s deeper, humbling work within me. That’s the plan anyway.
One last thought: Do you picture God being humble? Seriously—take a moment and think about it. I truly believe that God is ONE HUMBLE GOD. (Please make the connection right now with Charlotte’s Web and Wilbur the pig.) Doesn’t God move toward the mess? Doesn’t Jesus spit in the dirt, scoop it up, and smear it on the blind man’s eyes? Imagining God as humble is such a beautiful gift to me. I hope for you, too, as you make 2018 a year of pilgrimage toward this ONE HUMBLE GOD.