Right before Advent began, all of the missionaries had a “desert day”: from after morning prayer until 5pm mass, we were silent, spending time alone in prayer and reflection. To be honest, when I found out about the “desert day,” I was overwhelmed thinking of all of the things I needed to get done, like updating this blog, but I decided not to, knowing that I could actually really use a day of silent reflection.
After a few hours of praying at home, I decided to go for a walk to the waterfall here at Covecrest. I was thinking about some of the struggles I’m having at Covecrest and asking God to reveal to me the root of these problems. As I was walking the trails, I had stopped thinking about anything and felt like my prayer was going nowhere, when suddenly all of the foliage seemed really green to me. I know that sounds weird, but everything appeared so much brighter than it ever had before. I felt like God was telling me something, but nothing was coming to me.
I started taking pictures and tried to figure out why the trees and bushes seemed so green. I eventually figured out that it was because of all of the leaves that had fallen from higher trees; they were all different shades of orange. This was the first time I had walked the trails since the leaves of fall had fallen. After praying about it for a while, I realized God was trying to teach me about humility. It was because of the orange leaves on the ground that everything green seemed so much brighter. The green leaves can’t make themselves brighter, but the orange leaves can make them stick out more.
The world makes us think that we need to compare ourselves to others, be better than them, put ourselves first, and bring attention to ourselves. We often believe that we don’t need others to “get ahead” in life, that we can make ourselves who we want to become. The truth is that we can’t make ourselves brighter. God uses us to shine the light on others and vice versa. If we hold others higher than ourselves, God will exalt us if He wants to.
It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been involved in Life Teen or how much I know or have experienced in life. Others still have knowledge, experience, and gifts that I don’t have. Instead of being resentful about not being recognized or noticed, or being jealous of someone else’s gifts, if we rejoice in their gifts, our gifts will be revealed however God chooses to do so.
I guess I have a long way to go when it comes to humility, because during my walk I came to a river. The water was too high to walk across the rocks that are there so I added some rocks and got across just fine. On the way back, I was thinking about how awesome it was of me to think of throwing those rocks into the river. When it came time to cross it again, I fell in and my sneakers got soaked! It was a nice gentle reminder to praise God for all of my thoughts and abilities, not to praise myself.
Like St. Thérèse of Lisieux mentions in her autobiography Story of a Soul, I want to be content with being a little toy in the corner that no one wants to play with. God sees us, he knows we’re there, He will use us as He wills, whether others notice us or not. If we become who we are, humble children of God, we will help others become who they are meant to be.
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:12