Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Lovers of God - desire and spirituality

For reasons a little too complex to go in to here I ended up trying to buy poetry books online when I arrived in the USA and of course got waylaid into buying books I hadn't originally intended to even look at!
Poetry is the perfect companion for interpreters who are on call - it's brief, pithy and lifts your spirit with the joy of language even when your brain is heavy with the burden of interpreting constitutions, standing orders and political exchanges. There is no long narrative to get lost in but something more finished and more dense than passing language.

One of the ongoing conversations I've been having with a friend here in Grand Rapids has been quite a racy exchange about desire and spirituality, about sexuality, prayer and belief. So it's not surprising that while buying the other books I needed my eye should light on "For Lovers of God Everywhere". Roger Housden has put together a great anthology of Christian mystical poetry, some ancient some modern. I'm particularly enjoying reading the extraordinary short poetry of Hadewijch II about whom almost nothing is known and only a very few poems survive. How very moving that we at least have these few remains of her thoughts, faith and creatvity : a lover of God from over 700 years ago.

"You who want ..."

You who want
see the Oneness

There you
will find
the clear mirror
already waiting.

Translated by Jane Hirshfield