I currently have a copy of Elizabeth Dreyer's book on Passionate Spirituality: Hildegard of Bingen and Hadewijch of Brabant.
The first chapter is entitled: Medieval Women Mystics: Weird or Wonderful?
This book, along with other resources involving Hildegard and Hadewijch were warmly and enthusiastically recommended to me by three nuns I met while I was at the Friendship Conference in Waco. They warmly greeted me after a lecture after I had made mention in a question and answer session of my desire to write a book on cross-gender spiritual friendship. All three of them felt that it would do me well to do some research on the Medieval women mystics. They said, "Of course, most modern Protestants would immediately distance themselves from the erotic and intense language" with their eyes rolling as if to say I was totally connecting with them as a out-of-the-box Protestant thinker (I had mentioned during the Q & A my deep gratitude as a Protestant for Roman Catholic spirituality on cross-gender spiritual friendship).
But all three believed I would greatly benefit from looking at these women and how their passionate spirituality shaped the discourse and longings in intergender spiritual friendships in Catholic spirituality in Medieval times and even up to today! My conversation with them wasn't that long, but it was "angelic" so to speak. You mention a book on intimate cross-gender spiritual friendship to Protestant or evangelical women, (strangers) and they kind of look at you with a wierd distant look. These nuns, though, immediately came up to me and greatly encouraged me to not be afraid to go "deeper" on understanding the passionate language of spiritual friendships in Medieval women and the fresh urgency and application for cross-gender spiritual friendships today!!!!
Dreyer writes, "A negative effect of post-Enlightenment culture and the deepening divorce between spirituality and theology has been a loss of genuine affection in both arenas. As theology followed the course of academic methodologies, it found less and less room for feeling, which then became unmoored from reason. But a correction is afoot, and we find ourselves once again awakened to the value of the emotions and the body that gives them tangible form...In many cultures, the affections are linked with women. The dualisms embedded in Greek philosophy and inherited by the West tended to oppose spirit and body, head and heart, heaven and earth, man and woman. The first of these binary categories remains the more highly valued. My intention is exploring mystical passion is not to reinforce the narrow, gender-specific link between the passions and female human beings."
My conversation with the nuns was almost identical to the above paragraph only they continued to encourage me to explore this split within my book on contemporary cross-gender spiritual friendships!!!
Dreyer continues, "The larger category in which passion rests is love--the centerpiece of the Christian faith." She then briefly surveys that theme (this is in her introduction) under the categories of theology and modern psychology. She continues: Christians give God the name of Love, profess the Spirit as the bond of love between the first and second Persons of the Trinity, and claim that the ability to live the Christian life lies in the love God first offers us." She adds,"Spiritualities and theologies that are visibly born of the heart as well as the head quicken the spirit and offer a fuller account of the complex fullness of the human experience of God."
I will be looking at this book a little more in depth in the days ahead.
Are you familiar with Medieval mystics, particularly, women?
If you are a woman, do you find that your spiritual/emotional experience is "different" (not just different because you are an individual) in the sense that your husband or other men don't have a place to put your experience?
Do you find yourself afraid of a "passionate" spirituality or intrigued? Or both?
This is not a lightweight book on passionate spirituality. The beauty of this book is that it has some intellectual depth to it.