Although we don’t know many details about the life of the thirteenth-century mystic Hadewijch, it’s believed she served as the head of a Beguine house in Belgium, but encountered resistance and left the house for the life of a spiritual wanderer.
Like many Beguines, Hadewijch was a poet and mystic, and her writing reflects her deep commitment to mystic spirituality. Since her rediscovery in the 1800s, she has been recognized as one of the greatest Flemish poets of the medieval period.
For our inspiration today, we’re looking at a piece that speaks to the mystics’ experience of God’s love and their relentless pursuit of divine union — a pursuit that often mimics the experience of romantic love. It’s a short poem titled, “Love Has Subjugated Me.”
LOVE HAS SUBJUGATED ME
By Hadewijch of Brabant
Love has subjugated me:
To me this is no surprise,
For she is strong and I am weak.
She makes me
Unfree of myself,
Continually against my will.
She does with me what she wishes;
Nothing of myself remains to me;
Formerly I was rich,
Now I am poor: everything is lost in love.
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See Hadewijch: The Complete Works.
More spiritual nuggets for today …
On this day in 1918, the US Army Chaplain School was founded in Fort Monroe, Virginia.
The school was the brainchild of Chaplain Major Aldred Pruden and it emerged from a need to train chaplains for the sudden influx of troops serving in WWI. On February 9, the War Department approved Pruden’s plan and the school began its first session less than a month later.
Today, the Army’s Chaplain Corps features more than 2,700 chaplains of multiple faiths. The chaplains are commissioned officers who are assisted by enlisted soldiers with special training. In addition to leading religious services, the Chaplain Corps is responsible for counseling and providing moral support to the troops in both peacetime and war.
And on this day in 1964, the Beatles made their first American appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.
They drew 73.4 million viewers and the event marked the beginning of the group’s meteoric rise in the U.S. Two years later, John Lennon commented to an interviewer that the Beatles had become “more popular than Jesus.”
His statement set off a firestorm of controversy, drawing criticism from the Christian community and resulting in the refusal of more than 30 radio stations to play Beatles songs on their airwaves. In 2008, the Vatican published an article on the fortieth anniversary of the Beatles’ “White Album,” addressing Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark. In the article, the Vatican said:
“The remark … which triggered deep indignation, mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a ‘boast’ by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll.”
Finally, today’s happy thought comes to us from the writer and Beat poet, Jack Kerouac:
“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.”
And that’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.
For additional reading, see Hadewijch: The Complete Works. There’s a link above.
Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and I’ll see you tomorrow.