Art, Poetry, Music, and Nature for the New Year
Wednesday, January 6 2021
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
On entering the house, the wise men from the East saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Luke 2:11–12
Hadewijch may not be widely-known enough to be familiar, but maybe you know that she was a 13th beguine: a semi-monastic woman who sought a Christ-like life of voluntary poverty, chastity, and service to the poor and sick. Fluent in Dutch, Latin, and French, Hadewijch was probably from Antwerp, that dense and ancient Belgium port city that empties into the North Sea. Most of her poetry is like the one below: religious and mystic in nature. On this day when the church celebrates Epiphany, the starlit wonder of the Magi visiting Christ at the manger, wise women like Hadewijch can deepen our celebration of this day, for she did the same as those first Wise Men: seek Christ.
While Hadewijch is not a household name, among mystic poets her work is worthy of deeper examination: translations of her work, as well as a 2010 film, are recommended here at the Poetry Foundation. Below is one of those poem-prayers that has a hiddenness to it, a poem that grows in meaning the more you read it. Maybe printing it out to set beside your own mirror would connect you to the One she claims will meet—clear as a mirror—you within.
O Divine Oneness within, meet us where we are. Amen.
Hadewijch II (13th Century) “You who want …”
Translated by Jane Hirshfield
You who want
seek the Oneness
the clear mirror