Humility is a difficult quality to cultivate in yourself. If I claim I'm full of humility, I'm basically proving I'm full of shit. That would be like donating a kidney to a family member and then expecting that family member to thank me every time he takes a leak. Humility just doesn't work that way.
Sebastian of Aparicio had humility. A Spanish immigrant to Mexico in the 1500s, he made a ton of money building roads to facilitate trade and commerce. Even after he was richer than Thurston Howell, he still lived like a beggar, sleeping on the ground and eating "the poorest of foods," according to the book, which, in my mind, translates as sauerkraut and lutefisk. When he was 70, he joined the Franciscans, donating every last peso he had to the Poor Clares. (That would be like Bill Gates trading all of his stuff to the Salvation Army in exchange for a job as a Christmas bell ringer.) He became what is called a "begging brother" for his religious community. That basically means that, for the last quarter century of his life, he hooked his little red wagon to some oxen and traveled the countryside for hundreds of miles, begging for corn, picante sauce, salsa, whatever to feed his fellow friars. He died at the age of 98 with only a pair of fallen arches to his name, I imagine. Currently, he's one of the blesseds, a saint-in-waiting.
Now, I'm not a theologian or Doctor of the Church, but if this guy doesn't deserve a pass to the head table in the Saint Banquet Hall, I don't know who does. (He wouldn't eat much, that's for sure.) Sebastian didn't cultivate humility. He walked around and collected it in an ox cart.
God seems to be doing a number on me with humility. If you are one of my five Constant Readers, you are familiar with the earlier posting about my decision to pray during Lent for people who have injured or hurt me. While it has not been a trip to Disney World in any sense, I've been feeling pretty proud of myself. I mean, c'mon. I'm praying for people who have been assholes to me. I couldn't be doing a more Christian, forgiving, selfless act this side of rubbing my face with ashes, putting on sackcloth, and retreating to a desert cave for a dinner of locusts and honey. Then I had to go and fuck it up by erupting like Mount Vesuvius a few days ago. Now I'm the one who needs to be forgiven, and let me tell you, there's nothing more humbling in the world than having to look someone in the eye and say, "I'm sorry."
But that's what I did tonight. I apologized for my behavior to two people present at my Exorcist moment on Tuesday. It was humiliating. I could feel the blood in my face as I spoke, and my palms became sweatier than a virgin's palms at the Chicken Ranch. It was over in less than 30 seconds (apology offered, forgiveness received), but I would rather have had a colonoscopy. Afterward, however, I felt like one of the contestants on The Biggest Loser after losing 25 pounds in a week. It was a tremendous relief.
That doesn't mean I'm looking forward to the other mea culpas I will be offering this weekend. Root canal sounds more attractive right now. But, as I said earlier, God's teaching me a lesson. So, I'll hitch up my oxen and head out on the road. This is turning out to be one bitch of a Lent. My cart is loaded with corn-fed humility, and I think I'm developing a couple of humble bunions.
I just hope I don't have to eat lutefisk.
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