Tuesday, July 21, 2009


by Paul Cezanne

Walk Humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8 (NRSV)

Paul Cezanne ranks among the world's greatest artists. Yet he painted for 30 years before receiving any recognition. When an art dealer finally discovered him and exhibited his painting in Paris, Cezanne was overwhelmed. Entering the exhibition with his son, he could not believe what he saw.

"Look!" he said to his son, "I can't believe it! They've even framed my paintings!"
The true way to humility is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.
Phillips Brooks
(Reflection from Mission 2000, Praying Scripture in a Contemporary Way)


This is a tremendous reflection. I am reminded frequently and often not to be too proud.
For pride is the antithesis of humility. I once had a conversation about the sin of pride with one of our parish priests many years ago. I was bemoaning the fact that it is hard to be humble. I didn't know what to say to someone who had praised me. I told him that I just said it was nothing because I didn't want to seem too proud.

He explained to me that what I had displayed instead of humility was false pride. He said humility is accepting recognition with simple gratitude (Thank You) and giving credit to those who assisted (Thanks be to God.) Saying it was "nothing" was denying the workI had done and the talent and gifts I had been given. He said that humility should not be boasting, just simple recognition on the part of the recipient. After that it was easier for me to ground myself. And gratitude comes easier when I don't have to bear the burden of pride by myself.

And so I want to share with you a person, who in my young life, was a model of humility. My dad's cousin was a social worker for the Denver Public Schools. For years she would made home visits and counsel the kids and families at risk. Every year at Christmas she would receive gifts from the children and every year she would personally write thank you notes and mail them to their homes. I told her once that I was really proud to be her cousin because of all the good work she did to help these children. I told her she showed me how important it was to care for others. What she said still rings true and should ring true in all our lives.

"I couldn't do any of it without the grace of God. I am frightened every day when I go to work. He gives me the strength to do it."
And so I say,
"Thanks be to God!"


  1. Your Dad's cousin sounds like a wonderful person, and a nice reminder to all of us that whatever Gifts we are given it is through the Grace of God, and we should share those Gifts as God wants us to.
    And I agree with you that it is uncomfortable most times to receive praise or thanks and you really do feel that it's not such a big deal, and when you think about it, it really is God working through us, so why should we take any of the credit? But I think by 'dismissing' the thank-you's and/or the praise we do in some way dismiss those people thanking us or praising us. So when you think of it that way, it does make it easier to accept a compliment or a thank you.
    Great post!

  2. What great insights on true humility. It reminds me of my Dad, because whenever you compliment him on his intelligence, etc, he always replies "It's a borrowed gift" (from God) and gives God the Glory. I do have to work hard on just saying thank you to compliments instead of brushing them off.

  3. My mother taught me long ago that to try not to accept a gift or compliment is to take the pleasure or enjoyment of the giving away from the giver. I try to always humbly (and I DO feel humbled) receive compliments or gifts.
    I do like what Colleen's father said and will try to remember to use that nice reply!

    Great refelction, Cathy!

    blessings and hugs,


  4. Nice illustration, Cathy. And, ooh, I do love Cezanne. :) Peace!

  5. A very beautiful post indeed! It rings with familiar truth. It is funny how we often strive to be something and end up going the opposite way. I could identify very much with this. God Bless!

  6. Thank you for this post.
    I read somewhere recently that humility is just seeing ourselves truthfully and honestly, that really stuck with me.
    Without God's grace, the truth is we wouldn't be able to do anything.
    Beautifully reflective post.
    God Bless


Your insightful comments are appreciated and I want all to feel comfortable and welcome