Sunday, 3 January 2010

Desert Oasis

Dunno about you, but often when I pray I find myself daydreaming, half awake and half asleep (possibly I pray too late at night!) There is a recurring daydream that I have had lately and it happened again last night. I find myself going across a desert and get to a oasis. There is a Bedouin settlement there and as I meet the people I find that Jesus is there. I am delighted and run to embrace my friend and he does likewise. I then marvel that although I have known him for a long time it is only recently that I have felt like our friendship is real, in the past I was always fearful that I wasn't good enough, and would approach him with my head hung and not meet his eyes.
This morning I wondered at that daydream and feel perhaps in 2009 I found myself defeated and discovered a level of humility that has changed my relationships. My favourite section of Joan Chittister's commentary on the Rule of Benedict is below and is part of the section on the Seventh degree of Humility
At one stage of life, the temptation is to think that no human being alive could ever really believe themselves to be "inferior to all and of less value." At a later stage in life you begin to understand that secretly everybody thinks exactly that and that's why we deny it with such angst to ourselves and such unfairness to others. We set out systematically to hide the truth of it by clutching at money and degrees and positions and power and exhaust ourselves in the attempt to look better than we fear we really are.
The only difference between that stage of life and this degree of humility is that in the seventh degree of humility Benedict wants us to realize that accepting our essential smallness and embracing it frees us from the need to lie, even to ourselves, about our frailties. More than that, it liberates us to respect, revere and deal gently with others who have been unfortunate enough to have their own smallnesses come obscenely to light.
Aware of our own meager virtues, conscious of our own massive failures despite all our great efforts, all our fine desires, we have in this degree of humility, this acceptance of ourselves, the chance to understand the failures of others. We have here the opportunity to become kind.

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