If I was a learned man

I was warned against writing this book.
People said:
If one did not watch out,
It could be burned.
So I did as I used to do as a child.
When I was sad, I always had to pray.
I bowed to my Lover and said: “Alas, Lord,
Now I am saddened all because of your honor.
If I am going to receive no comfort from you now,
Then you led me astray,
Because you are the one who told me to write it.”

At once God revealed himself to my joyless soul, held this book in his right hand, and said:

“My dear one, do not be overly troubled,
No one can burn the truth….
The words symbolize my marvelous Godhead.
It flows continuously
Into your soul from my divine mouth.
The sound of the words is a sign of my living spirit
And through it achieves genuine truth.
Now examine all these words—
How admirably do they proclaim my personal secrets!
So have no doubts about yourself.”

“Ah, Lord, if I were a learned religious man,
And if you had performed this unique miracle using him,
You would receive everlasting honor for it.
But how is one supposed to believe
That you have built a golden house on filthy ooze…
Lord, earthly wisdom will not be able to find you there.”

“….One finds many a professor learned in scripture who actually is a fool in my eyes.
And I’ll tell you something else:
It is a great honor for me with regard to them, and it very much strengthens Holy Christianity
That the unlearned tongue, aided by my Holy Spirit, teaches the learned tongue.”


– Mechthild of Magdeburg


The flowing light of the Godhead / Mechthild of Magdeburg; translated and introduced by Frank Tobin (The classics of Western spirituality; #92). New York: Paulist Press, 1998.