“On Humility” -Rev. Julie Conaron

Humility is a very important part of our spiritual life… 

How is this achieved? 

Was it easier when we were little? 

How do our lives look to us? 

Do we feel we run our own life? That we truly only need our own choices, believing we have life of ourselves?

Quite early in our lives we start doing things ourselves. As we develop so does our Proprium (what is our own, another mixed blessing), but we still rely on our parents. 

In the teen years the process continues, but now we “really” know we are our own person! And we value and honor our peers more than our parents.

As an adult, some changes take place. As Richard Rohr writes in his book Falling Upward, early on, in our “first half of life” we are climbing up, battling through our lives “getting ahead.” However, we may be struggling to survive, rather than thriving.*

The first half of life is discovering the script, the second half is actually writing and owning it: “Falling Upwards” so to speak. Holding our inner blueprint, which is a good description of our soul, and returning it humbly to the world and to God by love and service is indeed of ultimate concern. One of the best kept secrets is “the way up is the way down”…

With aging, the changes can be sudden or gradual. Loss of our job, and with it our feeling of being worthwhile hurts. We can lose loved ones, health, maybe our home, losing our independence and needing to move into a facility. This can invoke feelings of isolation, loneliness, unworthiness and loss of our identity…

How do we achieve the balance of feeling worthwhile and yet being humble in our lives? 
We need to go through the process of repentance, spotting when the “Little Self” is trying to become the “Big one.” Reformation is acknowledging we really don’t have life of ourselves. It’s a wonderful illusion/paradox from the Divine. 

Regeneration is done almost entirely by the Lord. We have to meditate, pray and ask for Divine help to take away our evils. When that happens, God implants the equivalent good to the evil that is “taken away,” so to speak.

What do we read in in Swedenborg? 

Apocalypse Explained §291
“It is said humility, and then acknowledgment in heart, namely, that from the Lord are all good and all truth, and thence all intelligence, wisdom, and blessedness, since this acknowledgment is not given with anyone except in a state of humility; for when in humility, then we are removed from what is our own; and what is our own [proprium] receives and acknowledges nothing of good and truth from the Lord, for what is our own [proprium] is nothing but evil, and evil rejects all good and truth of heaven and the church. 
From this it can be seen why there must be humility, and why “falling down and worshiping” signifies humility, and then acknowledgment in heart.” ** 

Basically, the importance of spiritually falling on our knees to allow the Divine to change our hearts.

Arcana Coelestia §5135
“The things which we as little children in our first age learn eagerly or believe, and which we afterward either confirm, or doubt about, or deny, are especially these: there is a God, and He is one; He has created all things; He rewards those who do well, and punishes those who do evil; there is a life after death, in which the evil go to hell and the good to heaven, thus there is a hell and a heaven, and the life after death is eternal; also that we ought to pray daily, and this with humility; the Sabbath day is to be kept holy; parents are to be honored; and no one must commit adultery, murder, or theft; with other like things. 
These things we imbibe and are imbued with from early childhood; but when we begin to think from ourselves and lead ourselves, if we confirm such things in ourselves, and add to them things which are still more interior, and live according to them, then it is well with us….” ***

Return to childhood, but with the wisdom of old age not the innocence of ignorance is a long journey!

The take home message is humility is a journey to the Divine. We need to become like a little child, not in ignorance, but in wisdom: the wisdom to know we have no life of our own: everything we have is from God.

*Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. United Kingdom: Wiley, 2011.

**Swedenborg, Emanuel. Apocalypse Explained. United States: American Swedenborg Printing and Publishing society, 1897.

***Swedenborg, Emanuel. Arcana Coelestia. Translated by John Potts. West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1998.

Julie Conaron is an Interfaith and Swedenborgian minister, after more than 20 years as a microbiologist. Now officially “retired,” she served as a Hospice Chaplain for 8 ½ years, an occasional minister for 5 years, and a volunteer in a local hospital in Pastoral Care and Hospice for 2 ½ years. She now provides short, virtual services for 2 facilities and others until she can provide actual services again.

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