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The Realm of Sovereignty and Humility

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The Realm of Sovereignty and Humility

Beloved –

Welcome to the most recent edition of Reflections, my little musings of the week. This week, I am considering two words that don’t often go together in people’s minds.

The first word is “Sovereignty.”

The second is “Humility.”

Both of these qualities are essential for doing good work, whether that be ministry, education, what we think of as traditional “business,” study, or just being in our own space “and knowing we are there,” as the saying goes.

Sovereignty is the quality of strength and clarity about your own power. It is a quality of being able to set good boundaries and be crystal clear about what you can and cannot, will and will not do in pursuit of your goals.

Sovereignty has the word “reign” in it, and yes, it’s usually associated with reigning over a realm of some kind. For all of us, though, the most important “realm” is the one within us. This realm is the one of feelings, beliefs, values, perceptions, speech, and action.

Sovereignty is also one of the qualities pertaining to self-image. What do you believe you have a right to? Why? What are the boundaries around yourself and your values that you hold sacred? How do you respond to this James Baldwin quotation? – “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

Where do you live with “identities of privilege” as adrienne mareer brown says? (And so, as she goes on, Where do you need to work to dismantle all myths of supremacy.) Where do you live with “identities of struggle,” as she writes? (And so, then, Where are you called to claim your own dignity, joy, and liberation?)

How do you claim your identity, be with the power of it, own it, don’t shy away from it, don’t scuff your feet in the dust about it, but just be with it?

That’s sovereignty. And trust sovereignty is just the truth of who you are.

So what does that have to do with humility?

Humility, being close to Earth is also just the truth. It is the quality of knowing what you are and are not. The most fertile layer of soil in the forest is called “humus” and that’s what “humility” conjures for me.

As a teacher of mine said to me recently, the most supported position one can be in is lying prone. Close to Earth. Entirely held by gravity. Humbled, or at least humble.

Humility, as I’m sure you’ve read many times and place, is not the same thing as humiliation. It is also a quality of knowing your own strength and power, and the weaknesses that come with it. It is not something done to you by another person, but a virtue to be cultivated – just as sovereignty is a virtue to be cultivated.

Both these words, “humility” and “sovereignty” are about self-knowledge. Considering, knowing, and being with yourself is the beginning of being with all of Life and so transcending the small self that gets trapped in stories of humiliation or inflated self-image. Knowing yourself, observing and noticing yourself with compassion and without judgment or agenda, is the beginning of joining with all other Life.

Today, I leave with this shorter-than-usual edition of Reflections to consider where are you the master of your own realm? Where do you know yourself, not too big nor too small? I encourage you to observe yourself and notice where you’re living out of stories, perceptions, interpretations, and failing to engage past illusion and enter into reality. And I am encouraging myself to do the same.

Let’s let one another know how we’re doing.



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