Today I ate something extremely unusual.
Now, I love glorious pictures of delectable food. I adore the mere descriptions of food and its consumption, oozing with unctuous adjectives that can make you salivate just imagining the dish – which literary niche Anthony Bourdain once famously described as ‘food porn’ and then proceeded to indulge in for an entire chapter’s worth of food-orgiastic episodes – such as can be found and sated on Pinterest or They Draw and Cook or Tumblr or Instagram, yes, yes, you know where to get your fix already.
In fact, no one ever really wants to hear about,
much less try for themselves, what I had for lunch.
And yet every human on this planet has had a chance to taste it.
Today I ate humble pie.
It’s not, no matter who cooks it up or how prettily it’s served, a tasty dish,
and requires much chewing to make it at all digestible.
It usually doesn’t sit well in the stomach anyhow. And you’ll know
– because you’re a human – that the taste of humble pie sucks.
But, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and beets, it does become more palatable as you attain spiritual maturity. Humble pie is the modern monastic’s equivalent of giving up meat for Lent; it’s a spiritual discipline to accept humility – and to do it humbly, which is not a contradiction in terms. It is possible to affect humility and then be proud about how spiritually advanced you are. Nope, that doesn’t count. What I’m talking about is basically saying, “Hey, I was wrong. And, um, sorry.” And that is not an easy thing to do.
I screwed up in the way I talked to and related with my spouse this morning. I was polite, calm, and totally wrong in my attitude. He made a couple of points – in a polite, calm, slightly defensive way – in return, and went off to work. I took my attitude over to my girlfriends’ group which meets Tuesday mornings, and promptly got called on it.
Ouch. I listened, I nodded, and I heard the point my husband was trying to make – without ever feeling that my friends were taking ‘his side’, or defending him, or in fact bringing him into the equation at all. I was getting MY issue put out in the daylight, and through my own words. Convicted. In a totally sweet way, and on a silver platter with loving garnishes around it, but there it was; a nice big slab of I-Was-Wrong Humble Pie to swallow.
So yes, I apologized to my husband as soon as he got home. But that’s not even the hardest part about humility. Sometimes it’s easy to mouth the words but not bite into them – that is, sometimes you can say sorry without being sorry. And it’s even harder to digest the lesson of humble pie – that your point of view is not the only one in the world, that it’s not always the correct one, and that sometimes you even have to change that point of view. It’s still sitting in my stomach and reminding me – rather like a spicy taste in the back of your throat several hours after eating Tex-Mex – that I need to watch what I put into my mouth. That I need to watch what comes out of it. That I need to check what the calorie value or the damage fallout might be as a result.
No, this sort of discipline is never pleasant, but there are always results…whether you are practicing it physically (like giving up chocolate for Lent, or working out twice a week, or walking daily, or sitting down at your computer to write at least one page) or practicing it spiritually (like controlling impatience, or praying for others, or sitting in meditation).
So in the end, at the end of my day, what more can I tell you about my lunch? Just this. After you’ve had your own slice of humble pie…and it’s digested… you can change your point of view. Stand up, move, and get a fresh, forgiven, and shiny new perspective. Wash the crumbs off, and come out with a bright, clean, plate. Hold it up, in trust and faith, and see what God serves you up for dessert. Because there is, thankfully, always dessert after humble pie.