The Strawberry Patch

Enrichment and Inspiration for Beta Sigma Phi Sisters from Marilyn Ross

The Blue of the Flame
By Helen Piers Browning
January 1963 issue of The Torch

 "Of all virtues depicted by the rays of the torch flame, humility enjoys one of the happiest of color choices: blue. For humility is mostly "background" in the great panorama of human behavior, just as the arc of blue that is the sky is background for Natures' shifting landscapes.

 Imagine humility's being bright orange, or strident red! In softest, soothing blue, it is so pianissimo (very soft) in the hurly burly of life's gaudy spectrum as to be easily overlooked. But it is the sounding board against which love plays its most delightful melodies, success its finest chords, esteem its truest tones.

 Humility's blue often mistakenly is thought to be the massive emotional bruise so hurtfully in evidence when pride sustains a felling blow. Blue this may be; yet, for all its high color, it is crushed vanity. Real humility cannot suffer the wound of humiliation, except in the sense that a stretch of sky is torn momentarily by the rapier thrust of a speeding plane.

 Study the flame. Isolate humility's incandescent (shiny, very bright) tongue. It is a blue as fresh and true as a morning glory seen through the crystal facet of a dew drop, and yet here and there the color quality shifts to a tone as indefinite as the blue-lavendar of lilacs shrouded in evening mist. This is the way humility ebbs and flows in the spirit from day to day. The temptations of avarice (greed for money) and vaunting (boasting) one's own praise make constancy all but impossible.

 Plutarch wrote of a fellow Greek: "Epaminondas, finding himself lifted up in the day of his public triumphs, the next day went drooping and hanging down his head; and, being asked the reason of his great dejection, made answer: 'Yesterday I felt myself transported with vainglory (excessive vanity), therefore I chastise myself for it today!'"

 Self-chastisement (noble denial of self-love and self-conceit!) is one-half of the play of emotional tone on tone that makes for spiritual growth. Following each of vanity's fanciful heights, there must be a corresponding depth of humility if balance is to be maintained, and, if pride will not permit it, then discipline has to be resorted to.

 Humility, the blue of the flame! No groveling spirits bask in its radiance, only those with courage to face themselves honestly in the quiet hour of introspection, to close their ears to the world, to listen to the soul speak for itself and to hear it say: "This is what I am, not what my pride would have society see me as-merely me, the good, the bad, the small strength, the great weakness . . . "

 This is the confession that goes before communion with the other virtues. It is the donning of the blue mantle (covering) and kneeling in the blue light."

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