Sacred Encounters–Who Are the Poor in Spirit?

Have you ever wondered of whom the Sacred Texts are speaking when they mention the “poor in spirit”? I’ve come to believe it can be anyone, anywhere, at any time!

Though there can be many other indications of whom the “poor in spirit” might be, I came across these three specific examples in a single weekend while traveling–and it definitely had its impact on me!

  • The Homeless

    We carefully edged past him—the homeless man in the doorway of the old cathedral. He was having an animated conversation with God. His shirt was ill-fitting, and his skin was browned from spending long days out in the elements. His hair was bushy and disheveled, and his shorts had a hole in the backside. It was a sad spectacle in every sense of the word. And we couldn’t help but overhear him saying as we worked our way past to enter the sanctuary, “Are ya gonna let me in today, Papa?” I’m sure his story didn’t end there as I wondered where he slept, where he was able to find food or medical care when needed, and how he came to be homeless in the first place. Where did he and others like him find true “sanctuary”?

  • Immigrants

    Later, in a conversation with a 2nd generation immigrant, something became painfully evident. This woman still struggled with feelings of not quite fitting in anywhere—both socially and culturally. She was well educated, her husband was a successful physician—yet she still experienced a “disconnect” at times. Whether a person is ethnically different or not, successful or not— our basic needs are the same. We all need to experience connection and belonging no matter what our station in life is. My mother was an Australian war bride; and, therefore, culturally different. I know firsthand what it feels like to be a member of the same class, look the same, yet feel so very different from everyone else.

  • Lacking Spiritual Heritage

    In another conversation, I connected with an individual who had been brought up as an atheist. This person was experiencing intense pain over not being “allowed” to believe in a Supreme Being by his parents. This refusal placed his life path on a very difficult trajectory. His pain was palpable; but at the same time, his amazing gifts were obvious! He was a highly skilled and incredibly creative craftsman—an indelible imprint of the Divine! Yet his words indicated that he felt the need to be something more.

The pattern keeps emerging over and over again. We keep missing the obvious truth that WE ARE ENOUGH! The poor in spirit can be anyone, anywhere, at any time. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and at other times—not so much. In some areas of my life, I am like my brother who stands outside the doors of the church feeling marginalized. And, sometimes, I’m like my sister, who feels disconnected socially and culturally. At other times, I am like the converted atheist who seems to miss the amazing gifts he has to share. And, sometimes, I am the one praying and extending loving concern for others—opening myself to greater connection and offering my unique gifts and talents to the world. So keep your eyes open for opportunities to serve, and never miss the chance to remind yourself and others that WE TRULY ARE ENOUGH!

When has someone else extended the gift of connection to you by being present? What did they say, and what did they do to affirm you?

If you are willing to share, please leave your comments or insights below.

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