Wednesday, 10 December 2014
Being Truly Humble
I have been pondering what it means to be truly humble as part of my preparation for Christmas this Advent. I like to think of myself as a fairly humble person but being humble is something I have not been all that successful at it I am being honest with myself. One of my favourite quotes about humbleness is from Helen Luke, “to be humble is to see things clearly.” When we see ourselves clearly we will be humbled by what we see—our warts and imperfections; our shadow; our desire to be perfect despite our imperfections. As we approach Christmas and the incarnation of God among us we are given a wonderful example of humility.
The birth of Jesus—in lowly estate, in a stable, among animals—does not happen by chance; nothing in the birth narrative does. In the terms of Carl Jung, Jesus, as the archetype of the divine child, is the incarnation of the Self—the God image. Edward Edinger explores the significance of this happening among animals in their abode:
Birth among animals signifies that the coming of the Self is an instinctual process, a part of living nature rooted in the biology of our being. As Jung told a patient, an experience of the transpersonal Self, if it is not to cause inflation, “needs a great humility to counterbalance it. You need to go down to a level of the mice.”
As Edinger proposes, Jesus’s birth is a balance between the humble and the grand. The stable has two sets of visitors who come to worship the new king of the Jews at the call of the divine. There are the humble shepherds—who were the lowliest of the low in those times—and the wise men, or magi, from the east, who are also transformed into kings by the later mythologizing.
It is very easy for us to not see ourselves clearly. In fact it seems natural for that to occur and it take a great deal of effort to begin to see ourselves as we truly are which is how God sees us. God chose to humble himself and become one of us—not as prince born is a palace but he chose to be born in the lowliest of estates. I hope that each of us will be able to see the Christ child and see ourselves more clearly this Christmas.