Civility in America is breaking down. People debate the direction of our nation with a passion that at times can be expressed in anger. This public expression of heart felt descent has always been a healthy part of our cultural fabric. But today it seems to have boiled over to a new level. There is talk of “hate speech” and acts of violence. This is not good. What keeps coming to my mind is “The Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux in which the Christian life is summoned up as “loving one another as I have loved you.” Therese said, “Holiness does not consist in this or that practice but in a disposition of heart which remains always humble and little in God’s arms, but trusting to audacity in the Father’s goodness.” So for me two important watchword words for wildmen in the days to come would “humility” and “love.”
“The way of humility” is the way of Jesus. “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human (Phil 2:5-7 The Message). The way of humility for a wildman is willing to give it all up for Jesus and become a slave. This is the way of greatness according to Jesus. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43). A servant for Jesus’s sake learns to walk in humility, not in arrogance, anger, vindictiveness and rancor. I have to remind myself of this reality often in these days. It is the “little way”, the way of humility, in following Jesus that will bring the presence of Christ into our conflicted world
“The way of love” is learning to love the way Jesus loved. For me that is impossible. But we have these words from Jesus. “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” ( John 13:34-5). Notice that Jesus tells us to love as we have been loved. I first of all have to receive love before I can be loving in return. That means opening my heart to receive the love of Jesus in the deepest parts of my soul. I have to come out of hiding and allow myself to be loved. Truly knowing that I am loved in all “my stink” gives me the God given desire to love in return. That is how a wild man will be seen as a disciple; if we are able to love. I have to check myself every day, sometimes often during the day. I have judgmental attitudes, actions that are not caring, and thoughts that are not constructive of others. My ability to love is to reminded of how I have experienced the love of God and ask for help to let that love flow from me.
So in a day when a lot of men are taking up sides even with the church, there is a crying need for the “little way” of Theresa. The little way of humility and love will be countercultural. It will be misunderstood by other men. At times you will be made fun of. You might even be persecuated to some degree. It was the same for Jesus. He reminds us, “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will presecute you also’ ( John 15:20). Listen to these comforting words from The Message. “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens – skip like a lamb, if you like! – for even though they don’t like it, I do…..and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this” (Luke 22-23)