Who Are The Meek That Are Blessed?

One more follow-up from the retreat I gave this past weekend.

During one of my talks, I spoke about the Beatitudes, which included sharing some thoughts on what it means to be “meek.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth is one of the difficult Beatitudes, because we tend to confuse meekness with weakness.

Yesterday, one of the retreatants sent me this poem by Mary Karr, titled Who the Meek Are Not. It is a different way of understanding weakness than some I had suggested, and I love the image the poem conveys.

Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent
under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep
in the rice-paddy muck,
nor the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles
make the wheat fall in waves
they don’t get to eat. My friend the Franciscan
nun says we misread
that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them.
To understand the meek
(she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop
in a meadow, who—
at his master’s voice—seizes up to a stunned
but instant halt.
So with the strain of holding that great power
in check, the muscles
along the arched neck keep eddying,
and only the velvet ears
prick forward, awaiting the next order.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.