I return to an old, rutted road marked with a faded sign, almost hidden in untamed overgrowth: “Welcome poor in spirit.” But with just one step, my eyes open in wonder. The promise isn’t posted on a sign, for it is evident to all who dare stumble down its mysterious twists and turns, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:1-11)
The grand paradox, the upside down kingdom beckons, and the first glimpse floods my soul with hope.
It is not an easy journey, for the next valley yawns wide with another strange invitation, “Welcome those who mourn.” And yet for those courageous enough to venture on, treasure invades their sorrow, “for they shall be comforted.” At every turn, this road-map for the soul asks me to lay down my life to find it.
As crisis crashed over our heads like an angry ocean with the hospitalization last month of someone we dearly love for acute mental illness, I return to my old friend and guide, the Beatitudes. And like a bottomless mystery, they lure me ever deeper into an unshakable peace. As Brennan Manning writes in his book Ruthless Trust, “On the last day, Jesus will look us over not for medals, or honors, but for scars.” (Page 48.)
These wounds are not yet scars; they still ache, raw and open. But they whisper to me yet again, “Find the hidden path. Find the opening visible only in those fleeting moments when there is no other state of being but poverty of spirit. Walk the road, and you will find the Kingdom.”
These wounds, these scars – they are strange but secure promises. Brennan Manning goes on to write, “The scandal of God’s silence in the most heartbreaking hours of our journey is perceived in retrospect as veiled, tender Presence and a passage into pure trust that is not at the mercy of the response it receives.” (Ruthless Trust, page 60.)
So simple, so profound. A journey of terrifying loss and unfathomable joy: this sifting into gold.