It’s hard to be shut out. It’s hard to be the one (or the family) whose name isn’t on the guest list, the one who is pointedly ignored in the meeting, the one on the roster of workers about to lose their jobs in the downsizing.
The value of faith does not lie in the measure of success that it brings us. The value of faith resides in the hope and life that it brings during times of despair. And the steadiness and life that it brings during times of joy.
As Margaret (Fell) Fox wrote in 1690, while she and George Fox were enduring a series of imprisonments, “[Those who] keep single and chaste unto [God] need not fear evil tidings, nor what men can do, for He that hath all power in heaven and earth in His hand will surely keep His own . . . safe, as in the hollow of His hand.”
Dear Friends: To be poor in spirit is not the same as to be poor materially or socially. Even so, material wealth and social authority tend to obstruct our view of the long arc of history that bends towards a world of justice and kindness. Although anyone is capable of recognizing justice and kindness as fundamental purposes of humanity – even persons with wealth and authority – all too often, wealth and authority masquerade as justice and kindness themselves, a tricky sort of bait-and-switch that distracts us from keeping our eyes on the road.
If we’re moving along at a pace that feels safe and comfortable, it’s easy to believe that we’re going in the direction we were always meant to go, easy to deny the possibility that we might be lost. The poor-in-spirit ask for directions constantly. The magnanimous-in-spirit leap to the head of the line and show the way.