Humility Against Despair


My friend and, in many ways, mentor, Coleman Luck writes often of the End Times on Facebook citing various world situations. While I always take Coleman seriously, I have …er, occasionally “chided” him for being a little too quick on the draw and my basic argument has been “every generation thinks THEY are THE generation in which the End Times will occur. It’s a form of narcissism.”

This usually earns me a nice retort and so it goes. It’s how we became friends.

I was laying in my cubicle at the shelter last night thinking what an irony if I am some sort of precursor: I college-educated male who cannot get a job, get a roof over his head – who despite no addictions (I don’t even drink coffee anymore), a careful diet, the right meds and a fine mind, a good heart, simply is going to chronicle the beginnings of the coming mass breakdown in America.

I mean who better?


God wouldn’t do that to me. That is my narcissism.


One thing in for sure, He is gonna keep breaking my heart.

When I worked at the shelter one of the reasons I cracked was all the PAIN. Well now I am back as a client. You would think I would get to be shielded from it right?

No one is fooled.

This morning the overnight staff person was reduced to tears in our first conversation when she started talking about the loss of her eldest son last April. I wanted to flee the building. I mean…CAN I HANDLE THIS RIGHT NOW?

But I can’t flee or not care – and there is something about me that will make a total stranger open up in 10 minutes and start crying and tell me their life.

I did flee at 8:00…the whole complex. Get me the hell out of here! I start walking toward downtown. At the corner are Steven and William. after the long crossing over HWY 1 William says “Can I have just one minute of your time?”

I do the “Magnum head slump into chest.” I sit down with him and It’s 15 minutes and would have been an hour but I said “William you said a minute and it’s been 15 brother. I have no idea AT ALL what you should do. But I will pray and ask daily and if I get some direction for you I will let you know.”

I walked off and was very frustrated with God. I am NOT prepared for this. “You take me out to the desert and allow me to be beaten with pipes…send me through some 60’s insanity for four days and then I have to go hide from the cops in the redwoods to sleep illegally. Now you want me to deal with all my FEAR, get a job AND minister to people in immeasurable pain….GREAT.”

Oh and do all of it with a broken-heart and a well of sadness. Let’s not forget the best part.

I remember two things. One, that I once wrote an article on “Blaming God,” and how we as humans have an almost limitless capacity to do this (for our own damned mess). I would have to assume that despite my real frustrations right now and even anger with God, that I would have to fall under the weight of my own previous argument. In simpler terms: I must be mistaken no matter how I “feel.”

Second, Fr. Thomas Merton wrote a far more important essay called “Humility Against Despair” in his book, “New Seeds of Contemplation.” Put simply, only humility – true spiritual humility – can get lower than despair (my words) and therefore bring real freedom.

I admit, I am still wrestling with this myself – how do I become ego-less and yet have enough “stuff to go out and try and sell myself for jobs?

Anyway…my thoughts are then interrupted by the crazy guy two blocks back who has started up…

He’s preaching AT ME it seems.

Calling down judgment one minute and then blessing me the next. I just shake my head and keep walking. I am so tired of people abusing me with their tongues. I abuse no one with my tongue.

And when he passes me later at the cafe I say in a level and not unkind voice, “I’d appreciate your not yelling at me again.” He spews out some more directives about who I am and high fives some passing “Christians” who look at me like I am a hair on a biscuit and they say to me “God bless you.”

Oh He is…


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