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Reflections on a Year of Humility

December 31, 2015

No, I'm not arrogant enough to assert that this has been my humblest year ever and that I'm the most humble person around. I wouldn't dare. On January 1, 2015 I had the nerve to ask for a Virtue for the entire year, and I did a random Virtues pick with that prayer in mind. The virtue that chose me was Humility. "Oy!" I thought, as quietly as possible. After more than seventy years on this plane of existence, one thing I know for sure is that the Angel of Humility is the great teacher, one that trains the soul through tests. Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha'i Faith said, "The troubles of this world pass, and what we have left is what we have made of our souls."

So, today being the last day of the year in many parts of the world, I wonder what Humility and I have made of my soul. This morning, I asked prayerfully, "Is there anything more you have to teach me?" The first thought to come was "Reflect on the year. What have you learned?"

So as I write this, I'm looking back before I look forward and will once again, bravely pick a guiding virtue for 2016. Humility is still amongst those 100 Virtues Reflection Cards, and should I pick it again, I will take that as a message to dive deeper.

What life lessons have arisen for me in the past twelve months? I'll just share a few, or this will turn into a book. The rest will go in my journal.

The gift of silence. I have experimented with staying quiet, keeping my own counsel, when tempted to rise up and (eloquently of course) tell someone else what to do, especially my intimates. I have found that companioning either in silence or through a reflective question gives honor to their wisdom instead of dumping my own over their heads. I certainly don't want to be a jewel thief and steal away their teachable moments.

The vital importance of Forgiveness. I have thought a lot about the few but significant relationships in my life that have festered and grown musty in the back of my mind for lack of resolution. For the absence of genuine forgiveness beyond lip service. What helped the most was understanding that in any conflict there are always two sides, two parts. Looking at my own responsibility has been a profound eye-opener and for whatever reason, it has given me relief, loosening the shackles of hopelessness. I can DO something about that! I have befriended accountability, finding it not punitive, but refreshingly uplifting. Rather than making verbal amends, I have chosen prayer - constant, sincere prayer for those who I considered betrayers. And I pray for God to forgive me for poor judgement, attempts to control and, yes, betrayal.

I am not God. I have a tendency to step up to any situation, even with strangers, to rescue, rectify or straighten the crooked. I even apologize to tourists for cloudy weather. As my husband Dan says, "Once a social worker, always a social worker." Pondering the fact that God is God and I'm not has brought surprising relief. Even with -- especially with -- my own children, my influence has waned exponentially according to their advancing age. I have learned more this year about frugality and abstinence when it comes to advice. I don't want to be the battering ram against which they marshal their resistance. Until I'm asked. And even then, I ponder a bit, wanting to savor, not devour, this morsel of permission.

I've used this exercise in workshops in the past and love it as a way to take my own spiritual temperature. In the coming year what do I want to stop doing, keep doing and start doing?

Stop wishing things were different in one of my relationships. Stop wishing for control. Trust that things are as they are for good reason. For now.

Keep my deep gratitude for the beauty of land, sky, sea, and people. Keep nurturing the ones I love, including our five year old island granddaughter. Gratitude and love feed my soul.

Start a renewed pace of Grace to conserve my physical, mental and spiritual health and make the very best use of my time in service and creativity.

I decided to share my first thoughts with you on the year past. I also want to share what is ahead. My guiding virtue for 2016 is…wait for it. Ta da! DETERMINATION. Yay! I can totally relate to this one. And I am determined to stay humble while being committed to meeting my goals. Stay tuned.



Author photo
Linda Kavelin-Popov

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