On Easter, humility and…um…cake
On the evening of Good Friday, we are at the nadir of the Easter story. The dark before the dawn. To a Christian, this is the crux – literally – of Holy Week, the most profoundly significant week of the calendar. Unfortunately, however, I was unable to go to church as I wished today, as it seems to be my turn to be struck by the nasty chest infection that has been doing the rounds of the family.
While my husband went to church alone, I spent some of the afternoon sitting in glorious warm sunshine in the garden, feeling (as my Dad would have said) very feak and weeble. My younger son and the dogs had a wonderful time enjoying the first really summery weather of the year. As I can barely speak above a whisper today, they could pretty much do as they liked.
I sat and dozed, and reflected on today’s events in the Christian year. I also reflected on what I have realised during this Lent: that lack of self-confidence can lead to a sort of egotism, as one’s thoughts turn anxiously in on oneself. Thus even someone who feels quite humble can be guilty of the sin of pride. Now there is a humbling thought.
As if to help with that, I came across another idea new to me during Lent. ‘True humility,’ wrote C. S. Lewis, ‘does not mean thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less.’
I don’t think that I had ever really understood that before. So many of my friends are so much more giving of themselves than I am: generous in time, thought and action. For most of them, it has nothing to do with conscious faith (practising Christians are in a minority here these days, even if the Prime Minister has just ‘outed’ himself as one). Believer or unbeliever, the danger of being too introverted is that you can be so busy thinking negative thoughts about yourself (‘I’m not the right person to help’, ‘I’d be useless at that’, ‘They wouldn’t want me‘) that you forget that most of the time in life it’s not about you. So I have been remembering C. S. Lewis’s wise words, repeating them like a mantra every time the negative voice in my head threatens to drown out the needs of someone else. It’s amazing how useful you can be once you stop thinking about how useless you are!
Perhaps you are someone who has always known this, in which case you might think I’m a little slow on the uptake. That’s one of the wonderful things about growing older, though, isn’t it: there is always more to learn. Personally I find Lewis’s words very cheering and encouraging.
‘Mummy, you’re so lucky,’ commented my son the other day, looking around the kitchen at all the cards propped up on shelves. ‘You get Mothers’ Day, and then soon after that it’s your birthday, and next it’s Easter. You get lots of cards and cakes.’ Well, yes, I have always liked April for that reason, although, as I pointed out to him, it is me that makes the cakes. I’m quite happy with that, however. Perhaps one of the best things about being useful is that you get to have your cake and eat it.
Talking of which, I’d better finish marzipaning the Simnel cake before I drag myself off to bed. Then my family and friends can look forward to the joy of Easter Day…and cake too.
And after these slightly incoherent thoughts (blame the lurgy), may I wish you a very happy Easter on Sunday!