To Live Out What I am

My distress is great and unknown to men.

They are cruel to me, for they wish to dissuade me

From all that the forces of Love urge me to.

They do not understand it, and I cannot explain it to them.

I must then live out what I am;

What love counsels my spirit,

In this is my being: for this reason I will do my best.

Whatever vicissitudes men lead me through for Love’s sake

I wish to stand firm and take no harm from them.

For I understand from the nobility of my soul

That in suffering for sublime Love, I conquer.

I will therefore gladly surrender myself

In pain, in repose, in dying, in living,

For I know the command of lofty fidelity.

I do not complain of suffering for Love:

It becomes me always to submit to her,

Whether she commands in storm or in stillness.

One can know her only in herself.

This is an unconceivable wonder,

Which has thus filled my heart

And makes me stray in a wild desert.

Hadewijch of Antwerp

From: Teaching of the Christian Mystics

Edited: Andrew Harvey