Sunday, September 20, 2009


"Blessed are the happy-go-lucky boys and girls," Kurt Vonnegut writes. But today, I don't feel so happy-go-lucky. I feel like there's a lot wrong with the world, 'cause when I do the math, very little in this life adds up to justice, peace and harmony. I really don't want to let my thoughts degenerate into a mindless mash of pessimism and hopelessness, but sometimes it's hard to stay positive. 

Still, I think for all the mess and the sadness in this world, Jesus' beatitudes are a tremendous comfort to me. They acknowledge that the state of things is not as it should be; that we are not where we should be; they acknowledge our poverty of spirit, our sadness, our down-and-outness. But they also acknowledge the goodness of God.  He calls us 'Blessed' which is not the same as 'happy' or 'happy-go-lucky'. It's more like the word 'welcome':

Welcome are the poor in spirit. Welcome are those who mourn. Welcome are the misfits, the lonely, the outcasts, the strangers, the addicts, the beaten-up, the fearful, the hopeless, the pessimistic, the depressed, those who struggle, those who grapple, those who wish things were different. 

The beatitudes are not things to strive for, but realities to accept. We don't need to become poor in spirit, because we are poor in spirit. And yet, because of who God is, we are welcome to step into his home, to let ourselves be wrapped up in his arms, to feel loved and accepted despite our flaws and despite the messes we encounter in this world. I just hope that I will be able to offer that sort of acceptance to everyone I meet along the way.

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