André Grioux. Forest Interior with a Waterfall. National Gallery of Art.
Humility is the way of Love. The descending way of humility is the movement toward the true self’s realization. It is the highest virtue and the root of every other virtue. Humility is that lowliness of heart which seeks nothing for itself and is entirely dependent on God. Humility is an unself-conscious way of being and loving. This desire for lowliness has been too little regarded by the church and the culture, because it has been too little understood. Surprisingly, when we come to this sense of our entire nothingness, we come to everything.
Seeking the lowest place is in constant conflict with our pride. Pride is the false self’s illusions and conclusions which promote in us an inordinate and blinding self-consciousness. The descending way of humility is a movement towards unself-consciousness. It is the exposing of the false in us in order to perceive the true. If we will continually choose the way of humility, we will finally find our way onto the wide plateau of freedom and holy poverty.
We have to intensely desire such a holy gift, asking God for it always, but we must know that the path of humility goes through humiliation. The endurance of insults and humiliation, inflicted on us by our pride, have one indispensable condition: our consent to suffer the pain silently and alone for the sake of Love’s way. Gently yet painfully, this consent brings us to the lowest place, that empty place within where the Holy One and the human one meet in tenderest love and forgiveness.
When we feel humiliated by something or someone, we don’t react, we stay silent and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us about ourselves. Then, rather than staying trapped in guilt and self-flagellation, we allow the situation to bring us to new self knowledge and a deeper place of love. In the full embrace of the reality of who we are and who others are, all illusion and deception is left behind. We come to know ourselves in our truth and others in their truth, in their brokenness and pain, and in the beauty of our common humanity.
The self-emptying of the Incarnate God is the ultimate expression of humility and the most compelling invitation to empty ourselves of all that is false in us. The emptier we are before God, the more complete the inflow of the gift of Divine Glory can be. Now, with a pure and whole heart, we begin to see God. This is the gift of indwelling humility and the essence of the human and the Divine Life within us.
From The Hidden Life Awakened:
It is difficult for us to grasp the truth that Jesus came not to astonish us with the great power and high visibility of God, but rather to show us the way of hiddenness and humility. In contrast to our culture that applauds upward mobility, the inner life affirms that God’s path is the descending way. Humility is the way of Love. The descending way of humility is the movement toward the true self’s realization. It leads us to a deeper understanding that, in His eyes, the most significant is often the most hidden.
This contemplative life of humility flows from a pure heart that has persevered through much suffering and found its way to the Source. When we finally come to see that our desire for God is an echo of God’s far more encompassing and passionate desire for us, we can offer others a glimpse of light in the midst of their confusion, darkness, and pain. It is the love, hope, and encouragement of the One in Whom all is lost, yet all is found.The Hidden Life Awakened p.xv