In his infinite wisdom, God has ways of keeping us simple, humble. This is good. Otherwise, we might forget that we are the creatures, not the creator. God keeps us safe, trusting. He gives each of us a guardian angel to whisper in our ear about not texting while driving. If we ignore this angelic voice, we risk getting into an accident or getting a fine. God wants us to be good, spiritual. He thinks about us constantly. He has more pictures of us in His mind than any family photo album could hold. After all, we are made in His image and likeness.
Simplicity: Humble Pie
C.S. Lewis said humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. I began teaching collegians when I was 28 years old. Having earned three master's degrees before stepping into the classroom, I walked in feeling 10 feet tall thinking only of myself and what a grand impression I would make. I dogmatically announced that everyone in the United States could recall exactly where they were when they heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot. From the sea of blank stares, one brave student finally raised his hand and respectfully reminded me that he and his classmates were 5 years old when that assassination occurred. He said they could not remember where they were because they could hardly remember who they were, let alone who Kennedy was. He concluded with the inevitable undergraduate follow-up: “Will this be on the final exam?” I exited the room feeling 2 feet tall.
Safety: Locksmith? Why?
Growing up in a household of 10, everyone had chores. We washed and dried dishes by hand. We hung wet laundry on clotheslines to dry. We took turns feeding the dog and cleaning the parakeet's cage. And neither snow nor rain nor hot nor gloom of night could keep us from entering our crowded home because we never locked our doors! My folks did not lock the car and left the keys in the ignition. Why wouldn't they? The car was safe. The house was safe. We were safe. I don't know how many can fit on the head of a pin but somehow 10 guardian angels found room among 10 active people who learned to trust that these spirits of God would help keep our family together, sane and safe.
Spirituality: The Not-So-Candid Camera
The core of truthfulness and of spirituality is doing the right thing, whether supervisors are watching us or not. How often is someone observing us today? Most of us estimate that we are photographed less than 10 times a day by outside cameras. Not true. On average, the image of every person in America is captured more than 75 times per day. This number jumps to 300 times daily for big city dwellers. However, the 50 million folks visiting Times Square each year can choose from any of the 6,000 eyes that never blink along the Great White Way. Since surveillance is as omnipresent as God, what intelligent person would seriously consider behaving badly in this society? Has the video in the cloud made us a better convert or just better at being covert?
Have Bygone Days Really Gone By?
The old days were more than simpler times; they were sacred times. Can we admit that our talents and gifts come from God rather than from our exclusive creation? Do we acknowledge our angel guardians? Do we behave with integrity, witnessed or not? There is something sacred about being modest without self-deprecation. There is something sacred about trusting others without bolts and alarms. There is something sacred about being trustworthy without being monitored. Such sacredness is the measure of our relationship with God. Spirituality is not a part of the era when we are living. Spirituality is part of how we are living in any era. Holiness is not joined to when we are, but who we are. Mary is the exemplar of humble modesty, obedient trust, and Christian holiness. Since May is Mary's month, we can ask for her assistance in growing these virtues into who we are today.
Holy Homework: Using her statue or picture, let's create a small shrine to Mary somewhere in our home for the next 31 days. In front of her image, place three index cards, one behind the other, each containing one of these phrases: Creative Humility, Angelic Trust and Mirroring God's Image. In the morning, decide how to implement the virtue on display. In the evening, move the displayed card to the back of the pack to reveal the next of the three. In one month, we will have practiced each of the virtues of humility, trust and holiness 10 times to become closer to Mary and her Son in our daily lives.
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