Hadewijch of Antwerp lived in the 1200’s and was a member of the Beguines a community of urban, lay religious women organized for charity and spiritual growth. She lived an intense love relationship with the Divine that she expressed through passionate poetry.
Her total surrender to love sent her through soaring joy and vision as well as sorrow and feelings of abandonment — bringing her to deep transformations and insights. She asks, “How, alas, can anyone / Remain old, fainthearted at Love’s presence?” As a woman of passion, she came to understand that passion’s greatest fulfillment was faithful service — in this way she encourages others “to live Christ.”
In her lecture on Hildegard of Bingen and Hadewijch,* scholar Elizabeth Dreyer concludes, “Hildegard and Hadewijch stand as reminders that we are not alone in our choice to live and love with passion. They knew intimately a passionate God who freely and generously invited them to share in that passion. They responded affirmatively and call us to do the same. Passion involves a transformation in which service to others, healing, relief, comfort, hope and forgiveness take on a radically new character. The experience of passion wounds with the fire of love and opens the door to the utter fullness of humanity in God.”
O soul, creatures
And noble image,
Risk the adventure!
Consider your law and your nature —
Which must always love—
And love the best good of love…
ever keep on to the end
~ Hadewijch of Antwerp
*Dreyer, Elizabeth. Passionate Women: Two Medieval Mystics. 1989 Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana. Published by Paulist Press, New York.