Saturday, October 24, 2009

Throwing myself away

I've been reading A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle. My interest in her was spurred on by fellow blogger Happy. The name of the book is taken from the special place where Madeleine retreats when she needs a moment alone. "Often I need to get away completely, if only a few minutes. My special place is a small brook in a green glade, a circle of quiet from which there is no visible sign of human beings. I sit for a while, then my impatience, crossness, frustration, are indeed annihilated, and my sense of humor returns." Oh yes, I can relate to this lady.

In this autobiographical book Madeleine truly shares herself with the reader....her insights, fears, musings, thoughts on writing and her spirituality. I've found it to be food for my soul.

Particularly compelling for me in my quest to cultivate humility is a part early in the book where she talks of pride, self-consciousness and humility.

"When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware: we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves. The Greeks have a word for ultimate self-consciousness which I find illuminating: hubris: pride: pride in the sense of putting oneself in the centre of the universe.......The moment that humility becomes self-conscious, it becomes hubris. One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time. Therefore, the act of creating-painting a picture, singing a song, writing a story-is a humble act? This was a new though to me. Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration of something or someone else."

To me this speaks of the selflessness that Jesus talks about.... putting others first.....being a servant...dying to self. I find in my life that I withhold out of my own self-consciousness. I miss out on the essence of the moment and other people. I'm too worried about what I look like, how I fit in, how I'm coming across, to truly just be. Or as Madeleine would say to live ontologically. - a concept she explores throughout the book.

I'm inspired by this thought. Rather than trying to minimize myself in an effort to be humble and selfless could I simply forget about myself and see where that takes me? It seems soooo....well....reckless. I like it!

Any thoughts? Please join me in a discussion.