Sunday, December 5, 2021

Mechtild of Magdeburg

In the first half of Christian development, there was a sizeable number of people who we could label as Mystics.  Mystics were those, often hermits, who experienced vivid encounters with God.  These encounters took the form of dreams, visions, trances, or other outside-the-body connections. We've already met one of these - Julian of Norwich. If you recall she was an Anchoress. 

Mechtild of Magdeburg was a member of another early loose-knit group of mostly single women known as Beguines.  Beguines were committed to working with helping the poor.  She is said to have had her first spiritual experiences at the age of 12.  Born shortly after 1200 she had some connections in her 20's to the Dominican monastic order that she flirted with on and off through most of her life. Her mystical experiences shaped her understanding of God, which got expressed in her theological writings.

Without the mystics, Christianity would have been a dour penitential hellfire and damnation religion.  Mystics have been key to bringing a vivid understanding that God is love to the faith and they understand this love is beautifully demonstrated through all of Creation.

I invite you to take 10 or 15 minutes to breathe deeply and then grab a word, a phrase, or a concept from one of these Mechtild quotes.  Let it flow over you and be absorbed by your spirit. 

Love flows from God to humans without effort:
As a bird glides through the air without moving its wings--
Thus they go wherever they wish united body and soul 
Yet separate in form.

Spiritual persons who dwell on the earth
are offered two kinds of spirit:
In this way, two pure natures come together,
the first is the flowing Fire of the Godhead
And the second is the gradual growth and expansion of the loving soul.

When my burdens and suffering are held in front of me,
my soul begins to burn with a fire of true divine love
and even my body soars in abiding bliss. 

Love is drawn into all things.

The rippling tide of love
flows secretly out from God into the soul
and draws it mightily back to its Source.

Quotes from Sue Woodruff, Meditations with Mechtild of Magdeburg, Bear & Co., 1982

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