We greet Thee with all humility.
excerpt from the afternoon prayer of Sufi Master Hazrat Inayat Khan
Each afternoon I recite a Sufi prayer that includes the statement “We greet Thee with all humility.” Frankly, I consistently balk at the word “all” in that sentence. My wife Ruth and I recently incurred a setback that starkly informed me that indeed, I have plenty of room for additional humility.
Amidst our feeling pleased about making considerable strides toward reducing our debt, tree roots broke a sewer pipe, flooding our lower-level offices and hallway with sewage. As you probably realize, the bill was sizable. Insurance only covers inside repairs, beyond our $1500 deductible.
I am not a Pollyanna, who views the world through “rose-colored glasses.” Part of me felt deflated and discouraged. However, I’m also inclined to quickly seek lessons and perspectives in the face of adversity. After all, nobody goes through life without being periodically challenged.
We were thrilled with the efficiency and competence of the salvage team and the crew who repaired the pipe. Consequently, we only had to spend one night in a hotel. Although our downstairs carpets and baseboards will need to be replaced, none of our furniture or possessions were damaged. I didn’t feel sick from spending over an hour sucking up sewage water with a shop vac. Furthermore, although we incurred thousands of dollars of expense, the cost could easily have been much higher.
This past Saturday morning, Ruth and I laid in bed listing off dozens of large and small blessings and things for which we were (immensely) grateful, also expressing gratitude for numerous occurrences that could have happened, but did not. While we felt “full” from doing so, once again, we distinctly realized that gratitude, like humility, is boundless.
Paradoxes can certainly be exquisite teachers. Perhaps the greatest earthly paradox is that every person is precious to the Divine, yet each of us literally represents a subatomic particle in the scheme of the universe. Thus, while our problems often appear significant to ourselves, none of them are the slightest bit visible to an astronaut traveling in outer space—a humbling perspective.
I have long regarded gratitude and humility as close “cousins”—as cornerstones of sincere spirituality. Whenever I bask in either of those qualities, yet especially in combination, I feel deeply nurtured and enriched.
Honoring Unlimited Grace,