I remember the first time I was introduced to this silvery liquid called mercury that was found in thermometers. It was elusive in that it was like holding liquid ball bearings rolling around in your hand. What fascinated me though was if it was poured out onto the desk, it was impossible to pick it up and put it into your hand. Even when it was in my hand I couldn’t pick it up. It would simply break into two or three liquid spheres
Not sure if they still let students ‘play’ with liquid mercury anymore, as I’m sure they have declared it to be a ‘hazardous’ product…NOT to be played with.
For me the mercury reminds me of this most wonderful human attribute…humility. I love humility when I see it on people. You can smell it a mile away and it is literally the ‘queen’ of human attributes (okay, I’m sure there are others – just sayin’).
I know the Bible talks about ‘clothing ourselves in humility’, or ‘putting on humility’. Sort of like a pair of well-worn jeans. But it’s not that simple and that is what makes it so profound…so mysterious.
You can see it when others wear it, but if you go trying to act it, or tell people you have it, or even try to ‘put it on’ – - well you sorta contradict what it’s all about. To me it’s a definite God-thing. It’s proof enough for me that God exists.
One of the things I love about humble people is that they don’t think poorly of themselves. They are confident, and yet have this wonderful knack about them to make others feel valued and needed. They have no problem celebrating the gifts, skills and talents of others. It’s a beautiful blend.
I tried to find a photograph, illustration, symbol or anything that would represent humility. Everything I found on Google images seemed…I don’t know…plastic…two dimensional. It was then that the memory of my introduction to liquid mercury came to mind. So let it be known, from this day forward that liquid mercury is the symbol for humility! (kidding)
The other day I stumbled upon a poem entitled, The Man and His Shadow, by Paulo Coelho. Have a read…just read it for the enjoyment, not for theological soundness or anything like that. See if you don’t agree that Paulo paints a most beautiful picture of humility.
The man and his shadow
by Paulo Coelho
Illustration by Ken Crane
Many years ago, there lived a man who was capable of loving and forgiving everyone he came across. Because of this, God sent an angel to talk to him.
‘God asked me to come and visit you and tell you that he wishes to reward you for your goodness,’ said the angel. ‘You may have any gift you wish for. Would you like the gift of healing?’
‘Certainly not,’ said the man. ‘I would prefer God to choose those who should be healed.’
‘And what about leading sinners back to the path of Truth?’
‘That’s a job for angels like you. I don’t want to be venerated by anyone or to serve as a permanent example.’
‘Look, I can’t go back to Heaven without having given you a miracle. If you don’t choose, I’ll have to choose one for you.’
The man thought for a moment and then said:
‘All right, I would like good to be done through me, but without anyone noticing, not even me, in case I should commit the sin of vanity.’
So the angel arranged for the man’s shadow to have the power of healing, but only when the sun was shining on the man’s face. In this way, wherever he went, the sick were healed, the earth grew fertile again, and sad people rediscovered happiness.
The man traveled the Earth for many years, oblivious of the miracles he was working because when he was facing the sun, his shadow was always behind him. In this way, he was able to live and die unaware of his own holiness.