My dictionary defines Humility as the state or quality of being humble, conscious of one’s defects or shortcomings; not proud or self-assertive; modest, unpretentious. Humble comes from Latin humilis—low, small, slight, akin to humus, soil, earth. Humus, from the Latin for earth, ground, or soil, is the brown or black organic substance resulting from partial decay of plant or animal matter. Humus provides fertilizer for new growth. In my dictionary, humble is listed just above humble-bee, another term for bumblebee. Humility comes right above hummer, the affectionate term for hummingbirds. It’s interesting that the quality of being humble, grounded to the earth, is so closely placed to creatures that fly.
I asked to speak with Bee, to gain greater insight into humility. I heard buzzing, and thought to ask if it mattered which kind of bee I spoke with?
No, we are all connected. Bee continued. Are we humble? We do our jobs, we move through the world showing how to live cooperatively. We are what we are—no more, no less. Our lives may appear simple to you, yet they are intricate, like our dances. We have disagreements, as does your kind. That happens when some lose sight of what is best for the hive. We do not ask for recognition for our work. Nor do we diminish its value. Our place in the scheme of things is greater than our size.
Humility is like that. Value the service you do, as part of the greater hive, but do not lose perspective. You have asked me to speak about something that is both very great and very small. Each is an important part of the whole. The whole is diminished when a part is missing, or when a part inflates its own importance. It is delicate, the balance between valuing one’s self and seeking accolades for one’s growth. When you seek that, it shows that you have not advanced as far as you think you have. This does not only apply to humans, but to all life forms. Balance, and being, secure in one’s self. It is enough.
“Thank you bee. It is complex, isn’t it?”
Bee: Yes, and no.
The song of sparrows, who had returned with warmer weather, called my attention outside. Black-crowned and gold-crowned sparrows visit our backyard, with their songs that sound lonely and joyous at the same time. I asked to speak with Sparrow.
A soft voice answered, I am here. It is almost time for nesting. The energies are rising.
“Thank you for your presence,” I said. “Would you share your thoughts about humility?”
Sometimes, Sparrow said, to be small is to be great, being large and small at the same time. Each being has its place in the scheme of things. Each is important. No more, no less. Some, like the hawks, are larger and have a greater visible impact. Others, like us, weave the pieces together. Small as we are, we sparrows are an essential part of the web of life. We feed, and help spread the seeds that bring new life. We are prey and help sustain life for those who are larger. We sing, and our song brings joy.
Humility is being who you are. Do not measure yourself against others, to make yourself greater or smaller. We do not measure ourselves against the hawks, for theirs is a different journey. Even our flight, undulating up and down, serves to teach that there are higher and lower times. Honor your gifts and use them well. Honor what you receive and be grateful. Each being has its role. To deny it, or to claim more, damages the whole. We are. That is enough.
Myself, I’m glad to be a sparrow. I love the joy of flight and another season of healthy nesting, the search for food. Think of that joy when you hear our song.
With that, sparrow flew off to a low branch, and serenaded all who could hear with his beautiful three-note descending call.
I thanked Bee and Sparrow, mindful of their gifts. Bees are significant to our health and wellbeing: 80 percent of flowering plants rely on bees (which aerodynamically are not supposed to be able to fly), and other pollinators, to reproduce. Sparrow reminds us to see nobility in the most common things, and that through humility we can express unconditional love. Both spoke of being great and small at the same time.
Their message of humility in service is guidance for all of us as we grow to trust our inner selves, and open to the flow of healing energy that is Reiki. We are in service. That is enough. Just for today, I will be humble.
Note: This is the third of five articles about animal perspectives on the Reiki precepts.
Rev. Nancy Schluntz is a SARA practitioner member and offers for Reiki for animals (and their people) who are approaching the end of life. Nancy also offers Reiki to animals at the wildlife rehabilitation center where she volunteers.