Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I remembered her today. I remembered she had hopes and dreams like we all do. Hope that her life would have meaning, despite the harshness of her reality. I remembered how brave she was. With courage rooted in Godliness. She knew that ‘charity’ was the best of the spiritual gifts, but for her ‘charity’ was quite out of the question. She had nothing to give. So she set herself up for an alternate goal and strove with every breath to perfect it – A goal of ‘humility’.

She mistakenly took it to be a choice rather than what it was – a mindset forced on her by circumstance. She never realized that reality forced her to be ‘humble’, no matter what her choice or intent. That’s not how she saw it. In her mind, ‘Humility’ was a spiritual mandate entirely of her own choosing.

And so she believed it required an intensified struggle on her part – to hold fast to a denial of all luxury, comfort, and adornment. She had no silk stockings, no broaches, no jewelry, fashionable clothes, fur coats, or leather footwear. We all knew she couldn’t afford such luxuries anyway, but without a desire for these things, poverty lost its identity. In her reality, poverty was ever present, but her way of thinking morphed it from misery into something attired in the consoling costume of a comfortable existence.

And I also remember, as if it were yesterday, the lovely blue dress she got for her birthday. We were so excited. We couldn’t wait for her to put it on. But when she did, she put it on grudgingly and wore it grudgingly. It seemed that she idealized, or perhaps pretended until she believed it, that the brightness and freshness of that dress put a stain on the humility that she preferred to wear.

It is odd, this notion she had. That she could live a physical existence of abject self-deprecation, while at the same time an emotional existence of grandiosity. Odd to see arrogance coupled with humility as if they were compatible partners. But yet this uncommon approach to living magically transformed poverty to riches and allowed her to spin deprivation into gold.


Blogger goldenlucyd said...

Wow, Roberta! This post was all too familiar to me. Our generation of women saw humility as a virtue and many folks were very proud of it! How ironic. I've gotten so old I can't remember if I should be humble or proud but I like it this way. Thanks for a great insight and a lovely telling.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi Lucy, my dear friend. It is ironic, isn't it? A few years ago I said something to my boss about the virtues of humility. Her response was that 'humble' has lost its currency. In today's world it is worthless, even unattractive. "What is to be admired," she went on to say, "is assertiveness." And to help me understand that she qualified it further by letting me know the finite differences between 'assertive' and 'agressive'. In my mind I still had a block -- I still really think there is much more to be admired in the character of those who are 'humble'. I don't find assertive people nearly as charming as they aspire to be. Let's both be 'big haughty' about humility. Works for me.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Esther said...

We were talking about humility the other day in church, and it went like this: it is to NOT to think LESS of oneself, it is to think of oneself...LESS.

I think you can have the beautiful blue dress and thank God and whoever gave the gift...and all the other intangible gifts that we all get every day, a warm smile, an encouraging word, a sunny day, the fresh clean smell right after the rain.

I think our materialistic me, me, me, society can use a heavy dose of humility, but on the other hand we are to love others as we love (and take care of) ourselves.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi esther, such interesting observations. And what struck me as I read them is that with a new blue dress, I would engage more thinking in what is going on around me than I would if robed in a totally inappropriate tatty dress that circumstances forced me to shamefully wear. I think you're right. I think the new dress would be beneficial to good humor and a contagious good feeling. Guess there's several ways to assess the thoughts that went into this post.

1:11 PM  

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