Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
Brother Joel is with us in soaring spirit, though maybe never really walked on earth at all. He is surely still present with Brother August and I in his ancient strand of wisdom.
I affirm, “Yes, a suit of armor called ‘pride’ would impede love for others, and if it is forged from our personal fears and self-loathing it can obscure love for self. Jesus’ command to love makes love of self the pre-requisite to love of neighbor.”
August wonders at Brother Joel’s nuance. “But isn’t ‘love of self’ exactly what pride is?”
“What did Joel say? Did you ask him?”
“When Brother Joel pointed out that my iron suit of protection may be the flaw that separates me from love for my siblings I felt the pain of truth pierce that armor. First I wanted to argue then to hold back my tears from Brother Joel who knew my heart too well. Then he said, ‘God knows you and loves you right through your armor. God made you, and you are God’s.’ So my tears flowed freely and my armor of pride rusted away.
“Brother Joel stripped me naked of pride right while we were still in Bordeaux awaiting Nic’s return with the cart. At first I felt vulnerable, but then my prayers echoed around in the hollow with the answer in the old man’s voice and God’s love for me became adequate love to carry me through the moment between loosing my pride and allowing the kind of humility that lets me love of others. It’s nothing like the humility that others might see on me outwardly. An external, observable, pretend display of humility is all that is asked in The Rule. But stripping the safety of outward pride is raw. I thank God for the wisdom of Brother Joel, and that I was granted time to remove the war-irons before we left Bordeaux. I made amends with my brothers then.”
Dear God, thank you for letting me find Brother August anew, repentant as he is, without that rub that has even kept me from seeing him in the way you see him. Amen.
So here I find my own pride shields me from August’s assumption that I am my own son, and he thinks it was Nic who taught me to read. Why does this bother me? Am I the sort that believes a son is lower than a father? Or don’t I trust Nic to be my teacher?