‘Tree art’, Rotterdam (Photo: Irene Bom)
I cannot dance, O Lord, unless you lead me. If it is your will, I can leap for joy. But you must show me how to dance and sing by dancing and singing yourself! With you I can leap towards love, and from love I will leap to truth, and from truth I will leap to joy, and then I shall leap beyond all human senses. There I will remain and dance for evermore.
~ by Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210-1280)
from 2000 Years of Prayer compiled by Michael Counsell, p. 123
Mechtild of Magdeburg wrote this prayer while she served in the Béguinage at Magdeburg in Germany, as part of a community of lay women who combined a life of corporate prayer with service in the wider community.
One of the churches in our Presbytery, the English Reformed Church in Amsterdam, is located on the site of a Béguinage established in Amsterdam in the 14th century.
Although no Béguines live in the Begijnhof today (according the wikipedia the last Béguine died in 1971 at the age of 84), still the courtyard offers a place of retreat in the midst of a busy city. Somehow it’s hard to imagine the Béguines of old leaping and dancing there, but why not?