“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:2)
Today is the Feast of All Saints. This feast day has held several meanings for me, a cradle Catholic, but today it has a fresh meaning. Today it brings to mind the precious first graders whom I have the privilege to spend time with twice each week. This first Beatitude from today's Gospel could be their slogan.
Sure, I say this because they come from some of the poorest communities in the United States. And, sure, I say this because they still have the blessing of childlike humility when we speak of God. But, don't get me wrong, more than one of them can throw a dandy fit, and one of them has a tough-guy strut that kind of scares me sometimes.
But this All Saints Day, I am remembering a talk I recently heard. The speaker explained that to be "poor in spirit" is to live as though God is doing your breathing. "Respiration" has the same root as "spirit." To be poor in spirit is to know that each breath is not our doing, but the gift of a benevolent God.
This is why I am thinking about my first graders, and I call this their slogan because of how beautifully they meditate. We've been working on it since the first day of school. "Right hand up; place it on your heart; shut your eyes; now breathe â€¦" We practice slowly lengthening the out-breath until they are calm. Some days we just sit quietly then. Other days we might listen to music or a guided meditation. Once in awhile we lie on our backs in prayerful silence, eyes still shut, and we imagine we are finding shapes in imaginary clouds floating over us. It is way too much fun to debrief that experience!
REVLATION 7:2-4, 9-14 ● PSALM 24:1BC-2, 3-4AB, 5-6 ● 1 JOHN 3:1-3 ● MATTHEW 5:1-12A