The meekness proposed in the Beatitudes is not passivity but the firm determination to go on loving no matter what evil another person does to us. It believes that to show love is the true nature of being human. This behaviour undercuts violence at its roots. Violence tends to beget violence. When people feel attacked, they defend themselves. There is no end to the chain of violence until one of the contenders refuses to respond in kind. The determination to go on loving in spite of immense hurt is the only way to achieve peace (peace within ourselves, with God, amongst our families, communities, and nations). It presupposes and manifests the inner freedom to which the Gospel invites us.
SO HOW DO WE COME TO KNOW SUCH MEEKNESS (HUMILITY)? CONTEMPLATION & LEVELS OF (LOVE) CONSCIOUSNESS
THE ANALOGY OF THE TELL AND THE ARCHEOLOGICAL DIG
Archaeologists routinely gather together some graduate students from some big university, raise money from some philanthropic foundation, and hunt around for “digs” to unearth. The process often takes many years. Level by level, the archaeologists work down, culture by culture, all the way down to the stone age.
I suggest that the Holy Spirit, as the divine archaeologist, works in a somewhat similar mode. S/he picks us up where we are now, whatever our chronological age. The first thing is to heal the most destructive aspects of our present relationships and addictive behaviours. As a result, we enjoy a certain freedom in practicing virtue and humility toward others.
The Spirit decides to dig down to the next level. Actually, the Spirit intends to investigate our whole life history, layer by layer, throwing out the junk and preserving the values that were appropriate to each stage of our human development. Without following an exact chronology, the Spirit seems to work back through the successive stages of our lives: old age (if we have arrived there), mid-life crisis, early adult life, late adolescence, early adolescence, puberty, late childhood, early childhood; infancy, birth, and even prebirth.
The sequence corresponds in general to the emotional chronology of our psyche, in which the deepest and earliest wounds tend to be the most tightly repressed. Eventually the Spirit begins to dig into the bedrock of our earliest emotional life, where the feelings of rejection, insecurity, lack of affection, or actual physical trauma were first experienced. The most primitive emotions arise to consciousness because raw anger, fear, and grief were our only possible responses at that time.
Hence, as we progress toward the ‘Centre’, where God actually is waiting for us, we are naturally going to feel that we are getting worse. This warns us that the spiritual journey is a series of humiliations of the false self. It is experienced as diminutions of the false self with the value system and worldview that we built up so painstakingly as defences to cope with the emotional pain of early life.
As the ’true’ self is encountered with more frequency, our personal relationship with Christ deepens. We may experience enthusiasm for Scripture. Our devotional life, the sacraments, the liturgy, spiritual reading, ministry, all begin to flourish. The mistake would be to think that the journey is over. It has not even begun. This is just the first stage. Keating shows us a diagram which helped me to better understand this stage of my journey ‘toward the centre’.