Last night we had a pretty good time at Pau Hana Tuesday. For those who weren’t there, we had a little mini concert (really a light cabaret presentation if we’re being honest) from yours truly. We traced the history of some of the songs that mean the most to me in my development as a person. I explained that one of the songs that got me through a challenging time was the song “Humble Me” by Kevin Breit and interpreted by Norah Jones on one of her albums.
In the song, the character of the singer shares some hard truths. She shares that she’s made mistakes. She shares that she’s happy for her partner getting his life together again. And she shares that she’s made mistakes, too. To do this takes a quality that not a lot of people like to talk about. It’s one I’ve written about before in weekly messages: humility. This attribute shares its root with many good words, but the most important are likely humane and simply human. Humility is the sense that we are but us. We are not all-powerful and cannot control many of the circumstances of our lives, least of which other humans or really any kind of nature at all.
I was listening to one of my favorite books yesterday, Awareness by Anthony DeMello. And DeMello compares the idea that we might control others to the idea that we might control nature itself. He suggests that expecting another to change right away in the way we want is no different than deciding that we want to grow a beautiful garden of flowers and then expecting this to happen right now so we can have bouquets around our home. Nature doesn’t work like that. Neither does the hope that we can control much of what is around us.
On this 50th Anniversary today of Earth Day, we consider how much around us we can’t control. We consider how much of a gift this Earth that shelters us is in our lives. I tell you, it’s a gift beyond any full comprehension by any human. And responses to this Earth in faiths of all kinds through all times show this in the reverence and humility all religious stories have for nature, no matter how that faith chooses to express it. Between midnight and 4 am tonight (I know, it is technically tomorrow), I am told one of the most vibrant meteor showers we have seen in a while will be visible. And we all can watch in confidence as the peculiar, rare, and wonderful invisible structures of this Earth are deployed to protect and defend us…and put on a pretty great show. And that is humbling to me.
Make no mistake about it friends, emotions are forces of nature. In this song, the writer makes us feel that through words. But we all know it’s true. And like so much of nature, those emotions might be there to comfort and defend us. But sometimes they cause us trouble. And this is not unlike an Earth that has so much to comfort and defend us, yet has troubles in store for all of us in different ways. But in both cases, within and without, in the presence of such sacred force there is always something to say: you humble me.
May it ever be so.
Rev. T. J.