" 'It takes heroic humility,' writes Thomas Merton, 'to be nothing more than the man and the artist that God intended you to be.'

"The sense of community we long for must be found within the context of scattered communities and unspoken rules. The sheer variety of such communities and rules demands humility, perhaps even humility on a heroic scale.

"Humility is the basic posture from which we are able to do the work necessary to build and to live in community. Humility is required to get to obedience. And obedience, true obedience, is no less necessary in my communities than in monastic communities.

" 'The way to think of obedience,' says spiritual director Elizabeth Canham, 'is to think of it as another word for listening, really listening.'

"Humility is what creates the space within us — within our hearts and minds and souls and spirits — for obedience to grow. For real listening, humility is required, the kind of humility that says my will may not be the most important one. What may be most important is the will of the One Who made me. Or perhaps even the will of those around me, those to whom I am given and who have been given to me.

"Humility is what is called for when I need to set what I want aside in order to better serve the needs of those around me. Humility is required to give myself up to a common rule in a marriage, in a home, in a business, in a congregation.

"Humility is necessary for following the example of those who have gone before when what I want is to do what feels good to me, and to leave others to do as they please."