We are pilgrims, passing guests, olive trees of trust in the House of God, this magnificent house of life, the wide-open welcome of God’s presence. The groaning of Creation is in us; the sighing of the Spirit; the wordless prayer of a man that rises from the depts of unknowing nothingness, out of the bowels of the earth, his own humus. The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds. It begins head bowed, eyes downcast, not daring to look towards heaven but the result of this prayer, by this prayer we are lifted up into a new intimacy with God.
I’ve been committed to God all my life as a Catholic Christian and, since the age of seventeen, have given my whole self to Him as a Pallottine and as a priest since I was twenty-five. Part of that journey has been the pursuit of the virtue of humility that has eluded me time and again; all efforts to achieve it have been in vain. I have been humiliated many times and have humiliated myself many times more, but that is something other than virtue. Those experiences have only resulted in self-hatred, though even that must have been turned to good by the grace and mercy of God.
True humility has come and embraced me in the homeless poor women and men of this place. I don’t go out seeking them and am not involved in a campaign for the homeless, though we do host a weekly night shelter in which guests are welcomed with love, given good meals and a warm place to sleep during the coldest months.
It seems like we find each other in the time of God’s choosing, a moment in which I enter with them, one by one into a lowly place; not a question of me going “down” but entering into a place where I become humble. And if I humble myself as Jesus requires then I do so by this graceful entering into a humble state with another, through whom and with whom I am exalted. It is the exaltation of love, the love we have for each other, a love in which we are emotionally taken beyond the limitations of the physical; we transcend spiritually. When he says to me, “I love you”, he is giving me everything that he has, more than he might ever take from me. It is a complete and humble loving.
Two people in particular have recently found their way into my heart and my prayer – a man and a woman who have no connection with each other – and I have seen their groaning, their true prayer, pierce the clouds in ways that they might not expect or even wish. Both of them have ended up in hospital where they are getting the care they need and, hopefully, this will set them on new paths to better, safer, more comfortable lives.
The woman is doing well and, though she has a long, long road ahead, she is in a place of hope. He was taken in by the police because he went crazy and attacked someone but he couldn’t help it, can’t help it when his head goes crazy inside him. He gave my name to the police as his contact and they kindly told me of his situation but he has subsequently been sent for psychiatric treatment and, because of data protection, no one is allowed tell me where he is. I’m not even sure if he has given his real name. So, I find that I must let him go until he chooses to return, though I will still search for him and hold him in my heart in prayer.