In her reflection on the First Dwelling Places in The Interior Castle, St. Teresa offers this bit of sound spiritual advice: While we are on this earth nothing is more important to us than humility. I have decided to make this the quote for the icon, although I had to shorten it as you can see above.
Humility has its roots in the word humble meaning “close to the ground”. Humble is rooted in the Old French word umble coming from Latin humilis meaning “low, lowly”. Further, humilis is a derivative of humus meaning “earth”.
“To be humiliated” means to be brought low by either another person or circumstance, brought back down to earth (this might be a good thing or not depending on the circumstance and ones viewpoint). To strive for humility (as Teresa suggests throughout her writings) is to acknowledge the truth of who we are before one another and before God. Humility leads to authenticity.
In iconography one of the three colors mixed to create the proplasma (which is the base color for flesh) is olive green. When we look at a person’s face we can see tints of green. I think this might be where the saying, “green with envy” has its start. The awareness of the need for green to form the base of flesh in iconography is a visual teaching on our connection to earth (humus) and our need for humility in life.
St. Teresa’s advice is sound for all persons, all circumstances and especially our day and age.
Authenticity in who we are and in our relationships with one another and even with God can only be achieved when we cultivate humility in our lives.