“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Whether our life circumstances have left us meek or humble or gentle or we have been “gentled,” as Cynthia Bourgeault would put it, that is, healed and transformed by our surrender to the arms of God, the result is the same: we will inherit the earth. The meek are “the shy ones, the intimidated, the mild, the unassertive…if something goes wrong around them, they automatically feel it much have something to do with them.”
Meek and gentled remind me of two different approaches to training a horse. First there is the punitive way, breaking a horse using punishment and rewards, where the trainer gets obedience, but still the horse will distance himself from the trainer depending on how punitive he has been. Sometimes one can see the very punitive training in a horse who is very skittish, as if always expecting more punishment. And secondly, there are some trainers who gentle a horse through love. A horse that is obedient through the whip will learn to obey, but will never truly belong to his trainer. But the horse who is gentled, will be his trainer’s for life.
Here is one description of a trainer’s first attempt at working with a horse without a whip or rewards: “I insisted on giving the horse the ability to walk away, and kept the intensity low enough she always felt she had plenty of space and ability to leave me if she didn’t like what we were doing. The thing that is totally different from what others do, as she always had a choice in the work we did, and if she chose something I didn’t like, I had only minimal means of discouraging it. With no rope or stick or fence to push her against there was no fight, only an ongoing conversation between us. And on the flip side, if she did things I liked, I only had minimal means of encouraging it. Without bribes or food rewards, the only means of reward I had, was the way we felt when we were together,” says Sinclair”.
Doesn’t this description of gentling a horse feel like how God treats us. He respects our free will even as He is inviting us to love Him from a deeper and deeper place. He is not punitive—it is the choices we make that determines the consequences of our actions. Keeping the metaphor going, this being gentled by God is the reverse of the punitive God we most often expect. God allows us our free will and keeps the invitations to go deeper with Him coming. He allows us the time and freedom to come as we can and as we are. And still He invites us deeper into His being. We expect punishment for our sins, but He offers love and forgiveness. We try to follow the letter of the law, but He wants us to be totally with the spirit of the law. Finally, when we give up our image of God as the avenger of all sin, we fall into His loving arms.
So Jesus is upending the world’s view that the rich and powerful own all the earth’s resources. That we can hold onto our own will and still believe in God. That we can have our own way in things. That exercising power harshly over others is the way to behave. And He designates the ones who have no power as the ones the earth belongs to. In a way He is saying that the rich and powerful already have their reward, but for all the rest, the earth belongs to them and they belong to God.
Neil Douglas-Klotz puts the 3rd beatitude this way: “Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within, they shall receive physical vigor and strength from the universe.” Softened, not rebellious, open, not closed off, we might say that we can see and hear Jesus’ teachings, because we have dropped all pretenses that we are all-powerful and in control of our lives. Like Canaan where God eventually led the descendants of the former slaves of Egypt, the land was rich and productive, a “land of milk and honey.” And so God provided for the people who were obedient to Him and will always provide for the people who are meek and humble.
As to Bourgeault’s idea of being “gentled,” she is describing a choice we all have to make eventually in our relationship to God: we have to give up our own ego-led interests in favor of God leading our lives. And Douglas-Klotz would agree: “Blessed are the gentle… those who have softened what is rigid within…the humble, those submitted to God’s will.”
Once we are gentled or gentle, meek and humble, we have given up the fight and our rebellion. We are then ready to inherit the earth, because we will not misuse it for our own purposes. We will already be in the will of God and for all of creation. We can “walk forth,” being blessed, humble and meek and know that here we belong.
Questions to ponder over the week: How do I experience God, as punitive or loving? What is the truth about God? Am I seeing God through the lens of human parents who were less than ideal? Or do I see and experience God as He is? As Jesus experienced and loved Him? Am I humble before God? Can I love Him with all that I am?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who love Him with all of ourselves. May we see the truth about God.
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 Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message, Shambhala, Boston & London, 2008, p. 43
 Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, HarperOne, NY, 1997, p. 117
 Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message, Shambhala, Boston & London, 2008, p. 44
 Douglas-Klotz, p. 53