Sculpture by Max Greiner - "The Divine Servant"
Jesus is washing the feet of the apostle Peter
A Strong Dose of Humility
by Julie Bacon
Recently I ended my morning ritual of meditation and prayer in earnestness, stating, “God, I would like to know the true meaning of humility.” I then went on about my morning business.
While peeling my banana, a most astonishing reply formed in my mind.
“Go out on the streets and beg for money,” the voice said.
Laughing aloud, I said, “Yeah, right,” with a mocking tone.
“Go out on the streets and beg for money,” the voice came again. Looking up at my kitchen ceiling as if I could actually see the Deity who was doing the speaking, I said,
“You can’t be serious!”
When I heard the voice a third time, I knew I was in trouble.
Empty stomach, no makeup, my hair shooting in 50 directions and the shabbiest clothes I own, I must have looked a fright. But I did as I was asked and hit the streets. This request almost seemed like a joke, but I was game until I saw my first possible donor.
Approaching a well-dressed woman and, making direct eye contact, I said in a rather meek voice, “Excuse me, do you have any extra change you can spare?”
She gave me the once over and with a slight roll of her eyes; the answer was a definite “No.”
It hit me like the proverbial two-by-four. How many times had I, in my righteousness, decided who was worthy of my change and who wasn’t, based on the way they looked?
Now having trouble keeping my head high, I was instructed to enter Sunday Mass across the street. A young man stepped from the church doors and, as our paths crossed, I asked again for spare change. Without hesitation, he opened his wallet and I saw a $20, a $5 and a $1 dollar bill. Fully expecting $1, he handed me $25, leaving himself only $1.
His generosity was overwhelming and I burst into tears. He didn’t appear to be someone who could be that generous and my hand shook as I reached for the money. With countless thank yous, I turned and walked into the church and was greeted with hugs, prayers and soft, loving eyes. I left feeling truly cared for.
Slumping down along the outside wall of the building with face buried in hands, I thought the hardest part would be asking people for money. Receiving was harder. Carrying out the Divine mandate was by far the hardest. But the test was not over. Running into friends and acquaintances required a great deal of courage, for I had been instructed not to divulge the nature of my task. From the looks in their eyes, my friends probably thought I had multiple personality disorder or was a closet junkie and they tried desperately to help. I accepted their money, hugged them with deeply felt gratitude and walked away.
Only three hours into the exercise, I felt completely downtrodden and an aching hollowness inside. Walking the streets, winos and destitute ones met my gaze with a familiar sense of suffering while others looked at me in disgust.
The most prevalent group were the ones who pretended not to see me or found distractions so as not to look into my eyes. One woman gave me four pennies. One man asked what I planned to spend the money on as he handed me 78 cents. Humility was what I had asked for and it came dressed in a myriad of disguises.
Hitchhiking was even less forgiving. As I stood for a lengthy period of time, cold, hungry and with aching feet, I watched as dozens of cars fled by with their judgments, projections or just too harried to stop. A kindly woman finally picked me up and said that a gift had been bestowed upon her that morning and she wanted to pay it forward.
I was incredibly grateful to have a warm and comfortable home to return to.
Now, I am not suggesting that you empty your wallet or pick up every outstretched thumb you encounter. Discernment can be a lofty companion. What I am saying is a compassionate smile or simple nod of the head in acknowledgment would have made my journey a lot less daunting and not so painful and lonely.
1. Be very clear on what you ask for because it might blow your socks off when you get it.
2. Living with an open and humble heart is no small task. In fact, it just may be the reason we are
3. Much to my surprise, I saw myself in every one of the people I encountered:
The ones who judged.
And the ones who opened their heart.
The ones who were afraid.
The ones who were not.
The ones who offered to help.
And the ones who pretended not to see.
On my 6.5-hour sojourn, I had graciously received $73.11. The money was given to someone in need.
My deepest gratitude goes out to all those generous people whom, by their donations, allowed my heart to break wide open and let love in, in a way I never have before.
Printed in the Preview Section of
The Pagosa Springs SUN
January 29, 2015
under the heading:
A MATTER OF FAITH
Copied for your enjoyment, edification and with the permission of the author.
Peter & Rebekah Laue
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
E-mail Peter and Rebekah
All writings by Peter, the Lord's Scribe and Storyteller and all paintings by Rebekah, the Lord's artist are copyright free.