20 January 2019
Amis letter 02/03
Some of you might have met our new friend earlier, some of you might only be introduced to him today. Thus, may I introduce you to Meister Eckhart born in 1260 and died in 1329. He has been described as mystic and prophet, feminist and philosopher, preacher and theologian, administrator and poet, a spiritual genius and a declared heretic. For centuries Eckhart was largely forgotten. In the last few decades he has become more well known again and widely appreciated. Reading – and understanding! – Eckhart is a challenging task… like taking “in all of the Grand Canyon in one visit”. (Michael Demkovich, Introducing Meister Eckart, p15)
Eckhart lived almost 800 years ago. His world was marked by religious realities – very different from our world today. There was only one church and everything in one’s life was interwoven with the church. In our world it is not common to look for the sacred or for a sense of mystery in our lives. We live in a world where we buy things – his world was one where you had to produce and trade. Life had a steady routine. Travel was difficult, dangerous and not common. The region where you lived was much more important than your nation of even your “country”. Education wasn’t generally accessible, entertainment consisted of only lighter labour. It was in this world where Eckhart was born – most likely in the region of Hocheim (south-western Germany). He must have had access to books and education – a privileged person. He became a Dominican priest (the Dominicans are the “preacher order”). He became well known, a master of the text (scholar) and a master of the spiritual life.
What we know is that about 1277 he was a student of arts in Paris, before 1280 he started his study of theology in Cologne and that he lectured in Paris roundabout 1293-94. Before he was 40 he was elected as prior of Erfurt. His 11 years in Paris and in Cologne are the high points of his profession life.
Now, dear friends, I have merely told you OF Meister Eckhart. We cannot say we know him. So next week we will meet him again… But I leave you with two thoughts to ponder on:
When can you say you really know someone? (more than having an opinion about her/him)
What do you need in your relationship with God? (or at least: what do you think you need…?!)
With kind love!
Until next week!