What did Jesus mean by: “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” ? A Poet’s Interpretation…Posted: March 29, 2013
Alice Walker (born 1944, Eatonton, Georgia, U.S.A.)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit (for theirs is the kingdom of heaven)”
Did you ever understand this?
If my spirit was poor, how could I enter heaven?
Was I depressed?
I see how a comma, removed or inserted
with careful plan,
can change everything.
I was reminded of this
when a poor young man
desperate to live
and humiliated for trying
set himself ablaze;
I felt uncomfortably warm
as if scalded by his shame.
I do not have to sell vegetables from a cart as he did
or live in narrow rooms too small for spacious thought;
and, at this late date,
I do not worry that someone will
remove every single opportunity
for me to thrive.
Still, I am connected to, inseparable from,
this young man.
Blessed are the poor, in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – Jesus.
Jesus was, as usual, talking about solidarity: about how we join with
and, in spirit, feel the world, and suffering, the same as them.
This is the kingdom of owning the other as self, the self as other;
that transforms grief into
peace and delight.
I, and you, might enter the heaven
of right here
through this door.
In this spirit, knowing we are blessed,
we might remain poor.
© 2011, Alice Walker
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
is quoted from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 3, in The Bible.
. . .
Alice Walker is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist, short-story writer, poet and activist. Earlier this month Walker was interviewed for The Observer Magazine by Alex Clark. Walker told her:
“In each of us, there is a little voice that knows exactly which way to go. And I learned very early to listen to it…”
. . .
Ethiopia, 1985 – Sebastião Salgado
Tulelake, California, 1930s – Family on the road – Dorothea Lange
Germany, 1930 – Gypsy man – August Sander
Germany, late 1920s – Beggar – August Sander
Russia, around 1920 – Beggar with lyra – Nikolai Svischev-Paola
Oklahoma, U.S.A., 1914 – Old couple, sharecroppers – photographer unknown