I cannot dance, O Lord,
Unless you lead me.
If you wish me to leap joyfully,
Let me see You dance and sing—

Then I will leap into Love—
And from Love into Knowledge,
And from Knowledge into the Harvest,
That sweetest Fruit beyond human sense.

There I will stay with You, whirling.
– Mechtild of Magdeburg

Born in another century, I feel certain I would have been a mystic. However, as someone who loves to categorize herself, I’m also an INTJ. Fellow INTJers or friends of this coldhearted subset of the population will know then that we have minds like machines, not mystics. Rational to a fault, we forget about feelings and other nonessential issues. We hold little respect for authority, less reverence, and value the ability to come to an objective, optimal conclusion.

We do not have time for dreams and maybes, for sitting still and contemplating the mysteries of life which we know very well do not have graspable answers.

And yet, though no personality test I’ve yet taken has indicated this, something mystical bides its time in the pit of my stomach. It clutches at me when fog lays heavy over water or when a tree branch curves just so over an empty cornfield. Sometimes I wake up to darkness, certain it’s going to happen without knowing what it is. I have the strangest feeling that if I could only access that mysticism within me I would hear the universe singing.

(A caveat: it could be an ulcer. Most of the time the symptoms match up.)

If I were a daughter of the 1200s like Mechtild of Madgeburg, I like to think that I, too, would have visions of and write poems about God. Maybe I’d even figure out how to accept blessings and live in the freedom God promises us. I’d know how to dance. I surely would “leap joyfully…into Love and from Love into Knowledge” whirling forever in union with the Creator of the universe.

But reading Mechtild’s revelations I am forced to acknowledge it’s not about the time period, my personality constitution, nor my proclivity for dancing like a penguin that’s holding me back from divine congress.

I cannot dance, O Lord,
Unless you lead me.

I recently listened to a great sermon about Mary. To be honest, I sort of hate the mother of Jesus normally, because she’s often portrayed as everything I’ve never been and struggle to have any desire to be: sinless and submissive—a mother without the sex. This sermon, however, emphasized the agency of Mary’s submission to God and the shocking and enduing strength it takes to leap into Love over and over again, when you’re tired, when you’re abandoned, when you’re simply not cut out for it by virtue of your Meyers-Brigg profile.

So I pray with Mechtild that God will make me gentle and will make all of us humble, that we might stay with Him forever, whirling.


*Title is obviously sung to that beloved tune of Tevye’s from Fiddler. If you don’t know it, learn yourself.

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