(Story begins here) Neat lines of straw mattresses were illuminated by many windows of Muntin glass. Pete could hear lots of bustle from down below and the aroma of a very nourishing stew.
“So… wow!” Pete could not hide his surprise as he turned to see Mechthild. Her clothing was still designed for modesty, but subtle changes to the underlying shape were briefly of intense interest to Pete before he remembered his manners.
“Up here, please my Liebling, that is no way to look at a Beguine!” laughed Mechthild, she was now in her mid-twenties, with keen, clearly seeing eyes set in a youthful, well-proportioned face which positively sparkled as she talked. “You surprised me earlier Liebling, so I thought I would make myself look my best now that we are having another change of scene!”
“Um, fair enough,” said Pete, “what’s a Beguine and where are we?”
“I can answer both questions at once my Liebling. Beguines are large groups of women who wish to live a religious life, but not become nuns so they set up communes like this one, an early example of girl power, to use a phrase from near your time,” smiled Mechthild genially.
“So what is the religious life?”
“Mostly voluntary poverty and care of the poor and the sick. I joined this community as a young woman.”
“I see, so the poverty is because you give all your money to the poor and the sick?”
“No, poverty as a means of detachment from the material world and its clutches, like wearing snow shoes to not like, sink into the snow too much?” explained Bud.
“I see, so all those wonderful things that we’ve just seen, all those qualities, they seemed so beautiful yet not really heard of so much in my time?” said Pete.
“Your time is like, quite a dark time for a soul?” said Bud.
“Wisdom is seen as bigotry, because it does not accept foolishness as its equal which is a requirement of your society,” added Mechthild, “chasteness is seen as sexual repression. You saw my curves and maybe thought it a waste that no man will touch them, that I am missing out on something. But no! It is just that I have a particularly valuable gift to give to God and that is what brings me true, deep joy.”
“Humility is seen as like, letting people walk all over you,” added Bud when Pete had finished blushing, “faith is seen as naivety, or even insanity at least Christian faith is. But there is a lot more generosity towards like, other faiths?”
“Every single one of these terrible mistakes is due to materialism. The belief that an illusion created by an individual’s mind within a realm of emptiness punctuated by probable locations of not-really-particles-not-really-waves is the only true reality. Is it any wonder that all these terrible misplacements of true-reality virtues are made?”
“Trust is also seen as naivety,” said Mechthild sadly, “a holy reputation and good name on earth are seen as caring too much what other people think of you, or trying to please others too much. Might is seen as toxic masculinity, victory is seen only in materialist terms, of colonial oppression, daring is seen as reckless.”
“Yeah, and like, dignity is also seen as boring, or not being a good sport, or standoffish or symptomatic of a need to lighten up?” added Bud.
“Watchfulness is seen as prying or judging others,” continued Mechthild, “restraint is seen as repression, constancy is seen as stunted, repressed or worst of all, boring behaviour. Longing is very much permitted, but for only the wrong things, like material objects or the supposed victory of one subset of humanity over another. Meekness is seen as weakness or failure to stand up for oneself. Every single one of these terrible mistakes is due to materialism. The belief that an illusion created by an individual’s mind within a realm of emptiness punctuated by probable locations of not-really-particles-not-really-waves is the only true reality. Is it any wonder that all these terrible misplacements of true-reality virtues are made?”
“Good point,” said Pete, “I always thought something was missing from our society, but what about the bride? What is it to truly live with God?”
“A good question my Liebling, explained by some of my other visions that I had and wrote down in my book, The Flowing Light of the Godhead. Allow me to quote myself;”
When I shine, you shall glow
When I flow, you shall become wet.
When you sigh, your draw my divine heart into you…
…a blissful abiding prevails between us
“Stunning,” breathed Pete, “is there any more?” Mechthild was only too keen to share more of her work;
The more his desire grows, the more extravagant their wedding celebration becomes.
The narrower the bed of love becomes, the more intense are the embraces.
The sweeter the kisses on the mouth become, the more lovingly they gaze at each other.
The greater the distress in which they part, the more he bestows upon her.
The more she consumes, the more she has.
The more humbly she takes her leave, the sooner she returns.
The more ardent she remains, the sooner she bursts into flame.
The more she burns, the more beautifully she glows.
The more God’s praise is spread abroad, the greater her desire becomes.
“I literally, don’t think I’ve ever heard more beautiful words,” said Pete, “please, just a few more passages?”
“Stay, Lady Soul”
“What do you bid me, Lord?”
“Take off your clothes.”
“Lord, what will happen then?”
“Lady Soul, you are so utterly formed to my nature
That not the slightest thing can be between you and me.
Never was an angel so glorious
That to him was granted for one hour
What is given to you for eternity.
And so you must cast off from you
Both fear and shame and all external virtues.
Rather, those alone that you carry within yourself
Shall you foster forever.
These are your noble longing
And your boundless desire.
These I shall fulfil forever
With my limitless lavishness.”
“Lord, now I am a naked soul
And you in yourself are a well-adorned God.
Our shared lot is eternal life
Then a blessed stillness
That both desire comes over them.
He surrenders himself to her,
And she surrenders herself to him.
What happens to her then-she knows-
And that is fine with me.
But this cannot last long.
When two lovers meet secretly,
They must often part from one another inseparably.
“It’s incredible, it’s kind of religious and a bit erotic at the same time,” said Pete.
“There is no contradiction,” laughed Mechthild, “remember everything that we see and experience on earth is there to remind us about things from above. As above, so below.”
“So that applies to_”
“Yes, it completely applies to,” Mechthild cut in, preventing Pete from using a word that would not have been appropriate for a Beguine house.
“So you still have passions despite your celibacy? Sorry, I hope that’s not too personal?”
“Not at all my liebling, yes I do still have those kinds of passions, but like any instinct, it can be focused and directed above with enough commitment.”
“We’d better like, head off?” said Bud. As the two men drifted back to Lisa’s lecture theatre, Pete thought that he saw the lovers from Mechthild’s vision writhing as they passed and felt a stirring within his soul to find a path to love God with that intensity.