Humble or Humiliated?

The days are so short now that I milk our Brown Swiss-Jersey, Helga, in the evening darkness.

I walk in a different world then. The cows, sheep and horses are settled in for the night. Everyone is quiet. The barn cats crowd around for their stake of Helga’s daily bounty, but they are less insistent. Two ewe lambs that grew up on Helga’s milk last spring still appreciate a treat from her so I share with them. They slurp and burp with satisfaction. Usually, the air is so cold that my eyelashes freeze, but that cold brings brilliance to the night that I don’t see any other time.

As I walked from the barn to the house the other night, I looked up at the awesome vastness of the universe, with the Milky Way glowing among too many stars to count. I felt so small. So humbled. As if I were a single tiny speck among a billion other tiny specks.

As I stood out in the darkness, with blue snow reflecting the stars and moonlight, I contrasted that humility with a radio commercial I had heard just before I had gone down to milk Helga.

In that commercial, an anonymous home owner opened the door for Christmas carolers, only to be criticized about the interior decorating. “Please close that door so we don’t have to look anymore,” sang the carolers. Apparently, every listener was supposed to buy the Big Box junk in an effort to avoid the carolers’ humiliation.

Yes, the stuck hog squeals. That commercial hit pretty close to home. If Christmas carolers could make it through the snow drifts in our driveway, they easily could be standing at my doorstep, singing those very words.

The creators of that commercial intended to fuel my interior design insecurities and then profit from them, all in the name of carolers’ Christmas spirit.

They twisted the meaning of the Christmas season for their personal benefit.

My husband, Steve, and I have ample opportunities to be humbled as we raise livestock at the Graham Ranch.

We are humbled by utter exhaustion after a day out in below-zero temperatures.

We are humbled by the gratitude we feel toward people who helped us get to where we are today and continue to offer their support.

We are humbled by the sacrifices of service men and women so they can protect our cherished rights and opportunities.

We are humbled by green sprigs of renewed life peaking out from brown soil in the spring.

We are humbled by the interconnectedness of our world that appears in the soil, plants and animals around us.

Nature offers humility. It took humans to create humiliation.

We have only one defense.

We get to choose whether to be humble or humiliated.

We get to choose whether to be awed by the immense universe or cowed by commercialism.

In the spirit of this season that celebrates humility on so many levels, I think I’ll turn off the radio.

Lisa Schmidt