God revealed to Teresa that true humility is “to know what you can do and what I can do.” As participants in God’s divine nature, human beings are partners and collaborators with God. It is their nature to be drawn into the intimate circle of the Trinity.
Although Teresa had extraordinary experiences of God, she taught that ordinary prayer, like an intimate conversation with a friend, was available to all. All that was necessary was to bring one’s full self to God, in weakness as well as strength.
Teresa was not interested in her daily experiences per se but only inasmuch as they provided a mirror or window into God. Her regard for the humanity of Christ and her understanding of the human person were two sides of the same coin.
Francis took Christ’s teaching seriously. He was too honest to read Scripture selectively and too unsophisticated to spin elaborate no-risk interpretations of it. Instead, he championed the radical notion that Christ meant what he said when he spoke of love and poverty and sacrifice.
An embrace of Lady Poverty means that we try to live freely by getting out from under the possessions that own us. This can range from adopting a Franciscan-like life of voluntary poverty to the more common effort to cut down on consumption of needless luxuries.
When we go into the inner desert, we appreciate for the first time just how much unnecessary baggage we carry around. We see and gasp at the incredible artificiality of our old way of life, the flimsiness of our old values, the duplicity of our old self.