Effortlessly

by Mechthild of Magdeburg

English version by Jane Hirshfield
Original Language German

Effortlessly,
Love flows from God into man,
Like a bird
Who rivers the air
Without moving her wings.
Thus we move in His world
One in body and soul,
Though outwardly separate in form.
As the Source strikes the note,
Humanity sings --
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.

-- from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell

<<Previous Poem | More Poems by Mechthild of Magdeburg | Next Poem >>


/ Photo by ac4photos /


View All Poems by Mechthild of Magdeburg

Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Effortlessly,
Love flows from God into man,
Like a bird
Who rivers the air
Without moving her wings.


Isn't that image wonderful? The words themselves flow through us, like gentle music. That opening affirmation is so lovely that it's easy to miss importance of the next few lines:

Thus we move in His world
One in body and soul,
Though outwardly separate in form.


This statement could just as easily have come from the Zen tradition. When we discover that total integration of self, when every aspect of body and soul recognizes itself as a harmonious unity, the sense of the effortful self disappears. Our actions and movement through the world flow without friction. We normally take it for granted, the presence of a constant resistance in every action. What is that resistance? It is the fingerprint of the ego as it declares through each effort, "I am here! I did this! I!" It is a declaration of separation. But instead, when we are overcome with love and wholeness, the ego fades, no separation is seen, and we, in turn, flow.

Think of it this way: Just as swimmers shave their bodies to eliminate the constant drag of body hair in order to glide through the water, shedding the ego with love allows us to glide with surprising ease through the world. This is how saints and masters manage to act with such natural grace of spirit.

And all strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.



Recommended Books: Mechthild of Magdeburg

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry German Mystical Writings: Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, and others Mechthild of Magdeburg: The Flowing Light of the Godhead (Classics of Western Spirituality)
More Books >>





Effortlessly