Onuitputtelijke Schat

Now…that is a word in Nederlands whose length, combination of letters, and vowels simply overwhelmed me as I started my Nederlands learning. God was certainly creative when He scrambled the languages at the Tower of Babel. I first encountered this combination of words in a short reading for the Lauds service and after carefully—letter by letter—looking it up in my trusty dictionary, I discovered it means ‘inexhaustible treasure’ and of course refers to God. There is though an ‘onuitputtelijke schat’ here at the Begijnhof but not everyone finds it. The onuitputtelijke schat is the joy of contemplation and the presence of God. The Begijnhof has historically had continuous prayer and contemplation and/or mysticism for over 800 years. This treasure quite literally is in the ground. At its beginning in the 12th century, the Beguines were a women’s movement. The Beguines were both renowned and critiqued for their personal interior relationship with God/ contemplation. So if you are looking for the interior journey the Begijnhof is a good place to begin, to arrive in the middle, or possibly to end, your journey. The Begijnhof has groups several times a year that come, directed usually by an abbot or monk; they discuss contemplation or the long interior journey or something of the sort. Ruysbroec, a medieval Flemish mystic, fairly well known outside of Flanders, was the topic of one group in the spring. This weekend was De Monastieke Tuin (In the monastic garden), a devotional with 52 days of contemplative readings of two or three pages in length by such luminaries as Michael Casey, Thomas a Kempis and Julian of Norwich. These are companions with other unknowns, one just named a monk. It is encouraging that you do not have to be a luminary to be on the interior journey. It is clear to me that this ‘onuitputtelijke schat’, the inexhaustible treasure of God, His presence, can be found at the Begijnhof but not all find the treasure…some are not looking, and some who look do not find. You must be open, seeking and available, so the wise of the journey say.



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