I had a chat with my friend Paco yesterday. Paco is a Lay Cistercian and shares my love of the contemplative life. He was my “angel” (my mentor/ “big brother”) during my novitiate as a Lay Cistercian, so we’ve become pretty good friends. I asked Paco to read the unedited manuscript of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and he stopped by my office yesterday to tell me he had finished it. His main criticism of the book is that he felt I did not stress humility enough. “You mention it,” he said, “but I think we need to stress it as an absolutely central part of the spiritual life.”
We talked about this for a bit. We talked about how humility is not the same as low self-esteem — on the contrary, low self-esteem can often by a form of inverse pride, for pride is “all about me” and putting oneself down can be a subtle way of keeping one’s attention focused on the self rather than on God or on others. We talked about the relationship between humility and earthiness. We talked about how, ultimately, humility is about creating the space within us to receive God and God’s blessings. So humility is related to hospitality. Paco said with a twinkle in his eye, “it’s almost as if, the more humble we become, the more God is ‘forced’ to be present to us.” We both laughed at the silliness of his metaphor, and then I mused, “Perhaps the spiritual life ultimately can be reduced to two simple, fundamental choices: choosing humility instead of pride, and choosing love instead of fear.”
He beamed at me with a knowing smile. Yes, it really is that simple.