Embracing Humility

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

In the 1920’s Max Ehrmann wrote Desiderata.   Desiderata, which is Latin for “Things To Be Desired” or “Things Desired as Essential” speaks powerfully of the invitation to be yourself:  “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others… If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself….Be yourself.”

Many years before Desiderata,  Shakespeare wrote something similar in the play Hamlet in reference to being ourselves, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to anyone…”

Both Desiderata and the writing from Hamlet point to the meaning of humility “grasping the truth about ourselves and God.” In popular understanding humility is often used to mean meek and mild, where in reality humility is realizing all that we have and all that we are comes from God, who is the Ground of our being.  There is another source to consider  in looking at humility.

In the Christian scriptures (Mark 9:30-37)  Jesus asks the disciples what they were talking about as they walked to Capernaum.  They didn’t say anything at first, perhaps looked down and around, and finally trusting Jesus with their hearts, said, “well, Jesus, we were talking about who is the greatest.”  Then Jesus sat down with them and encouraged them to get in touch with their deepest selves and to see that they had been given certain gifts and no gift is better than another gift.  Further, welcoming the most vulnerable in our midst is also part of what it means to be humble. 

Yes, humility is grasping  the truth about ourselves and God.   To compare ourselves with another is to turn away from the gifts we have from the Ground of our being and our true selves.  Are there times when I compare myself with another?  How does that feel?  What are my essential desires?   Consider spending time in quiet welcoming the truth about yourself and God. 

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence…be yourself”.  To thine own self be true… grasp the truth about yourself and God. 

We journey forward embracing humility.

Blessings and Peace,


About SisterNancy

I am a Catholic Sister, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy swimming and nature: hiking in the mountains and along rolling hills, sitting by water and walking through the various seasons of life. I am a spiritual director, spirituality consultant, chaplain and retreat director. You can contact me at sisternancyosf@gmail.com
This entry was posted in beauty, Desiderata, humility, Mark 9:30-37, Spirituality, To thine own self be true and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Embracing Humility

  1. I needed to hear these words today…”all that we have and all that we are comes from God, who is the Ground of our being.” Thank you for your good thoughts!

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