Today I bring you another poem form the medieval mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp. In her spiritual love poetry, Hadewijch expresses both the agony and the beauty of serving love, that is, God’s love.
In this excerpt from Poem 28, Hadewijch wrestles with the power of love, which can both destroy and raise up. She also asks the question, what do you do when you just can’t go on, when you’ve reached the end of the road and you can’t love anymore? Read Hadewijch’s poem for her honest take on God’s love.
For this is love’s truth: she joins two in one being, makes sweet sour, strangers neighbors, and the lowly noble.
She makes the healthy sick and the sick healthy; she cripples those who are sound of limb and heals the wounded.
To the ignorant she reveals the wide roads they must wander in weariness and teaches them all that shall be learned in the school of highest love.
Burning desire is taught in the school of highest love.
She confounds the experienced, she brings happiness to the wretched, she makes them lords of all over which love herself holds sway.
Of this I am certain beyond all doubt.
To those who can serve love no more I give this good advice.
Let them still beg for her comfort if they falter and serve her with devotion according to her highest counsel.
Let them think how great love’s power is, for only those near to death cannot be healed.
They have risen high that have received love’s power, and in that power they shall read her judgment over them.