So good, I need to read it again and again!
Dear Wondrous Faculty and Staff of St. Martins!
As we prepare to move into November (where there is so much going on!) I wanted to share some thoughts about our values theme for the month: “Humility.”
The word “humility” stems from the Latin humus meaning “earth, soil or ground.” The same Latin root also gives English the words “humus”— composted soil gardeners use — and “exhume” — to take something out of the earth. And, importantly, it is the root of the word “human” — reflecting the second creation narrative where God forms the human being out of the soil (Genesis 2:7). God literally forms the human from humus. Human — from the earth, from the soil, by the hand of God. Handmade by the Living and Life-giving God. A good way to think of humility is being grounded—our feet planted firmly on the earth from which we came. Grounded in REALITY.
Grounded in the reality that we are created beings designed to live in relationship with God, with others and with ourselves. To be humble is to be honest about who we really are and WHOSE we really are. This is why in Christian tradition humility has been referred to as one of the two “Queens of the virtues.” The other is gratitude. Humility and gratitude are like fraternal twins, distinct and intimately related at the same time. Very fitting for the month of November as we look at celebrating American Thanksgiving. It is very much about truth – the truth of who we are. It follows well on our previous value theme of Honesty. Humility is about being honest about ourselves, being truthful about ourselves. To be truthful about ourselves includes accepting and embracing all our gifts, capacities, and skills.
The 19th Century mystic and theologian Therese of Lisieux put it this way: "Why do people so mix up the meaning of humility? Humility isn't at all about denying one's abilities and accomplishments. Humility is simply knowing the truth about yourself, and about where you come from, and about Who gets the ultimate credit."
So humility involves being modest, acknowledging the Source of who we are. Since we are loving our neighbors as ourselves, we are not trying to put ourselves above others or ahead of others, not bragging about ourselves. In the light of the Gospel of Jesus we see ourselves—our gifts, skills and capacities; our weaknesses, inabilities and areas of growth—we see it all in relationship to our life with God. And we see EVERYONE ELSE’S gifts, skills and capacities in that same relationship.
Humility. Humus. Earth.
Honesty. Truth. Gratitude.
Grounded—our feet planted firmly on the earth from which we came. Grounded in REALITY. Handmade works of art by the Living and Life-giving God. As always, if you ever have any questions, please ask. It is truly my blessing to serve you all. Grace and Peace!
David J. Kitch, Chaplain
St. Martin's School