I gave them instructions, and they pushed me out the door. The girls wanted more than anything for me to go to the store and buy food! I spent the day at a middle school field trip to a local water park. Our eyes were red, our skin tight, and I was thirsty. But, unfortunately, after the long weekend, I needed a trip to the store.
I went back in to tell them one more thing, and they shooed me out with requests for Cheetos and some chocolate cereal named “Krave.” I run to the car, and I drive a little dazed to the grocery store. I’m listening to a Franciscan priest Father Richard Rohr, and I’m in deep thought. I parked, and as I reach for my purse, I remember. I left my wallet in the darn swim bag. Ugh. I call home. “Yes, Mom. It’s here,” she says.
I started the van again, and I drove back with some groans. I get back to the house, and Maile is waiting at the door with the wallet. I grabbed it, thanked her, and then leave again. As I’m walking into the store, I feel the sun cracking my alligator skin. In that moment, I made a vow to use lotion every day, wear more sunscreen and cover up.
I grabbed a cart and headed to the produce, but I was distracted by a lovely loaf of ciabatta bread in the bakery part. It was really lovely. I go back to my cart, and it’s not there. I shake my head and look around. Oh, man. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a lady glance at me guiltily and turn to go to the fish section. I blink twice. She stole my cart. She knew it was mine. She took it anyways. I’m still holding my ciabatta loaf in one hand, list in the other. A man walks by and looks at me. I think I looked bereft and confused. I put the loaf down and quietly walked out the closest entrance to get another cart. There aren’t any. I understand now. Reentering the store, I take a red basket to carry for a while. Then what I just heard breaks through: Thomas Keating said he charts the path of conversion as a series of necessary humiliations to the false self (ego).
It might sound dumb to you, but that would be good for my ego also. There’s no whining with God at the center. The peace of Jesus is what we all want even if we don’t know it. This might make sense to you if you’ve been searching for who knows what. Stolen carts and forgotten wallets are nothing, really, but the daily frustration or humiliation of those experiences gave me grace in that moment. I felt the emotions still, but I just gave them a nod and moved to find a new cart. I patted the frustration on the back, and I sensed the space of grace from God. It wasn’t earned; it wasn’t me that was seeing the grace. It was Christ within. I saw.
We are all the same before God. We are all cherished. We are all loved. We are all desired by God. This is what this past Sunday (Pentecost) was all about. The coming of God available in all languages.
God is gracing. I’ve got to get out of the way. There is something to this life that is getting out of the way to being present. Father Rohr says that Francis of Assisi and other great monks used to pray for one great humiliation a day. Embrace humiliation? Sounds like poop, huh? I think there is something to this embracing if you are looking for a living that is connected deeply to God. Something about not being in control, seeing that there is no “having it all together.”
There are days when I feel ecstatically in love with God. There are days when I feel heavy and unenthusiastic and doubtful. But, humiliation I have daily. Ah, and grace I have every second of every day. So do you.
So, maybe in those moments when you want to curse or groan or slide down under the chair, count it as gain. You’re getting out of the way for grace. Isn’t that exciting? All shall be well. God wants us to get out of the way because God wants us.
Shall we be humiliated together?
O God, we are here. Thank you for wanting us. Grant us daily grace for our daily humiliations. We feel so much. We are quick to take offense. Forgive us. Love us. Show us what God-love is like. We surely need You, Holy Spirit. Teach us to pray. Teach us what we need. Amen.