The Beguine mystics we are studying in my Naropa class on Friday are incredibly inspiring to me. They lived in an era (13th century Europe) when women were almost unbelievably oppressed. And yet they knew irrefutably that they possessed unshakable power over the Divine Lover - God - and that "He" could not live without them. For example, God informs Mechthild of Magdeburg that she is "my PHYSICIAN," and that she is "A FOUNDATION of my Divine Being." And yet these kinds of insights were always followed immediately by an intense - yet welcomed - sense of being forsaken by God. Mechthild even called it a "Blessed Forsakenness" and informs us that "His Forsaken-ness is better even than Himself"! "Ah! Blessed Forsaken-ness!" she exclaims. "You strengthen my will in suffering. When You leave me, it is a high and heavenly courage Your absence gives me!"
Isn't this attitude incredible? The Beguines talk a lot about how they know they are mirrors in which The Beloved can perceive and celebrate the infinite and fathomless abyss of Divine Love, like a mirror-image adding surprise to the divine Viewer's experience by taking on a life of its own! These mystics help me to see that my own sacred self-confidence is infinite as well! But this is not a solipsistic kind of self-esteem. It is definitely unlike modern pop religion, which is so often focused on "Me, myself and I." Yesterday, in fact, it occurred to me that when I am GRIPPED by a sense of inner dignity and confidence, there is actually SomeONE - an "arm," as it were - present as its source on the Other Side! Wonder of wonders! Somehow, I am able - IN THIS VERY MOMENT - to contribute something unique and one-of-a-kind to a self-assurance that goes endlessly BEYOND me, extending back into the endless reaches of eternity!
Photo: Artistic ice on a snowy day on Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, February 22, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.