Hildegard of Bingen

 

Noreen’s Reflections on Hildegard of Bingen

During the late eighties I was involved in a training program in Mid-Life and part of the work was for each participant to prepare a presentation on some aspect of Jungian Psychology.  Since I had recently read ILLUMINATIONS OF HILDEGARD with Commentary by Matthew Fox, I chose for my topic The Mandala.  The mandala represented the “inner self,” “true self,” “wholeness,” or simply the “the infinite divine center” within each one.  Displaying the Mandela’s illuminations by Hildegard was the perfect way to include the participants in the presentation.  The illuminations gave me a sense of the Divine Spark or the Living Light which Hildegard experienced in her life. 

 During the years that followed this period, Hildegard was not an active part of my spirituality.   Connecting with her, as I did in May through the Communion of Creative Fire brought this remarkable woman mystic alive once more for me. Her explanation on ‘Radiance’ has changed my perception of everything that comes before my eyes. She tells us that radiance is the way we participate in feeling the energy of the universe and the way the universe communicates its beauty to us.  Radiance makes it possible for us to feel intimacy and communion with the other.  The light therefore generated by another’s presence, whether it is a flower, rock, water or another person, is Radiance. At the heart of the Power of Radiance is our acceptance of the authentic beauty we receive by opening to the depth of another’s light.  In EnlightenNext Magazine I recently read a beautiful summary of Radiance. I quote: “In my view, the power of Radiance is an expression of the mysterious way in which the universe cannot contain the magnificence it houses. Instead it is compelled to express itself in ten million different ways.”  (p. 41) 

Hildegard has many lovely teachings on the universe. I particularly like the sound of her trumpet when she states: “As the Creator loves his creation, so creation loves the Creator. Creation, of course was fashioned to be adorned, to be showered, to be gifted with the love of the Creator. The entire world has been embraced by this kiss.” (trans. Gabriele Uhlein Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, Bear & Co., Rochester Vt. 1983)  Beautiful Gaia!

I am very grateful to Hildegard and her teachings on the universe and on prayer. How beautiful her image for Mary, “Mary is ‘the greenest twig’, pregnant with God’s life…”

When I come to quiet each morning, I begin with Hildegard’s definition of prayer.  She states:  “Prayer is inhaling and exhaling the one breath, ruah, of the universe.” Quieting myself in this fashion, I am then drawn like a magnet to the Isle of Iona in the north of Scotland and I bring all of you with me.  Allurement forms this attraction in me.  I rejoice that I am being shaped by the beauty that beckons me.  I feel the presence of each of you, of Hildegard, but as well the presence of those sisters who lived their lives in community.  Now there remains but a remnant of a demolished nunnery. However the stones are alive and their energy draws people from all parts of the world.  There many experience the gift of peace.  In her book The Energies of Love  Anne Hillman writes, “Allurement expresses the deep need of life for life.” (p. 192)

Surely no woman mystic and prophet so rejoiced and gave thanks for life and shared her multiple gifts so generously with the church and world as did Hildegard of Bingen. Matthew Fox states, “Hildegard’s teachings forced people to wake up, take responsibility, and to make choices.”  She continues to speak this message to people today.  May I continue to learn and fall in love with this woman, mystic, saint and Doctor of the Church. (Noreen)

 

Clara’s Reflection 

I resonate with Hildegard’s referral to radiant light.   I see it mostly in people’s eyes. I have the privilege of offering seated massage to marginalized persons.

It’s really stunning to notice the difference in a person’s eyes before and after the seated massage.  I am conscious of the life-giving energy that manifests this radiant light in myself and each one.   I bless each person with the words “May God’s radiant light shine in you and through you”.  I like the way Hildegard’s Poetry, so full of images of nature and intimacy, touches my soul and my experience.

…..the breeze helping the homeless, marginalized person, the dew comforting the depressed, downtrodden, the cool misty air refreshing the exhausted.  God hugs you.  And you are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.   

These images come alive and speak to what I experience.

There are times when I don’t see the radiant light in the other although I know it is there. I pray through the seated massage that the tenderness, compassion and love of Christ will flow through my hands and trust that is something is happening even if it is not easy to see.

How close I come to the suffering God among us and how awed I am that I can offer comfort  to an aching body that is filled with stress.  It is so rewarding to actually see the hunger in a person’s soul  being filled even if it is only momentarily.

I experience being guided by Wisdom in my prayer for each one during this sacredencounter.  I become aware of a deep communion occurring between Christ, Sophia,the person and myself.  Without a doubt the positive changes that I see make a difference at a personal level and impact our world with a hope that care and kindness is a reality. (Clara) 

 

Yvette’s Reflection 

After having lived several years in leadership positions in my Congregation, I took on other ministries ~ college teaching and then facilitation of meetings for other Congregations of consecrated women.

I sometimes live moments of wondering if my energies are being depleted.  I have come to understand that I am psycho-spiritually strong, but need to tend to sufficient physical rest. Quips such as “I’m getting old.” or “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” fade into the background when I am facilitating groups.  I go to bed very tired each night but know incredible energy and aliveness during the day. Yes, I know a passion for life, for compassion, and for liberating words or the Word. Others reflect back to me their sense of the wisdom of my years and of the light in my eyes.

Hildegard says: “I will tell you a secret about that divine light, about creative fire. The more you nourish it in your heart, the more it radiates out from you. The more you release it through your words, your deeds, of wisdom, of loving compassion, the brighter the flame burns. You will be a great burning, my beloved people, and in that fiery dance, you will find that you are, as I myself discovered, no longer aware of your years, but rather that you feel once more as young as a spring maiden. Shine on!” 

I hear her and say: Yes, shine on, Yvette!  

Hildegard and a Ruined Chapter House
As sources of inspiration for our 21st century Communion of Creative Fire, a 12th century Benedictine Nun and the ruined Chapter House of a 13th century Augustinian Nunnery would seem rather past their “best before” dates. But ancient roots still carry life, ancient places still hold mystery. And a 12th century woman who was inspired to write about her experience, her deep heart-knowing of God, has left us a treasure of wisdom that neither withers nor grows old.
Iona. Pilgrims, seekers, back-packing youth from across Europe and North America travel to this North Atlantic Island to spend time, to pray, to work as volunteers in the massive rebuilt abbey that once was home to a men’s community of Benedictine Monks. Just a short walk further along the road there are the ruins of an Augustinian Nunnery that no one has thought to rebuild. Yet its grassy space, open to the sky, with here and there a bit of ruined rock wall, draws more and more people. They come quietly to stand, to walk, to sit, to pray, under the open sky within the sound of the sea. Someone has planted a garden of flowers. 
There is a powerful metaphor at work in Iona’s ruined nunnery, in the grassy space that was once the Chapter Room where women gathered to prayerfully reflect on their lives, to make the decisions that would guide their days in peace, that would guide their lives, keeping their hearts open to be containers for the sacred rain.
When I visited Iona in a chilly March day in 2010, I first went to the abbey, joining the community that lives there now for an evening prayer in the candle-lit chapel on the abbey grounds. But in the morning light I was drawn back to the ruined nunnery. I read the names of abbesses engraved on the stone walls, wondered about their lives, unwilling to leave the peace and beauty I found there. Later, as I travelled away from Iona on the ferry, a construction worker who commuted to Iona told me that the ruined nunnery was his favourite place, because of the peace he finds there.
A few months after my visit to Iona, I read Philip Newell’s book The Christ of the Celts. In his closing chapter, written in the ruins of the nunnery, he says:
Here on Iona I find myself wanting more often to pray in the ruined nunnery than in the rebuilt abbey church. And I am not alone in this desire. 
Newell goes on to say how the ruined nunnery has become
a place where countless individuals pray in solitude and where groups of pilgrims can be found offering impromptu rituals and songs for the healing of the earth
Seeking reasons for this, Newell cites its roofless, wall-less openness to creation, as well as its history as a place  of relationship, of intentional community and devotion to Christ.....and through it all a conscious yearning for the Living Presence.
Then he adds,
But the nunnery is also a ruin. It is a place that reflects the brokenness of our lives and our world as well as the failure of our religious institutions. It is a place that states clearly that we have not got it right and that we do not yet know exactly what shape the emerging spirituality of today will take. It is also a place that resounds with the neglect of the feminine that has so crippled our Western cultures and spirituality. It is this that many of us are longing for in the spiritual journey of the world today, a recognition that our imperial religious inheritance is collapsing and that we desperately need  to reintegrate the mystical, intuitive, and earth-related fragrances of the feminine if we are to be alive to the deepest yearnings of the human soul. (J. Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts Jossy-Bass pub. San Francisco 2008 pp. 124-6)
Mystical. Intuitive. Earth-related. (Hildegard. That’s your cue!)
In a beautifully illustrated book, Hildegard and Her Vision of the Feminine, (Carondelet Productions, Sheed and Ward, Kansas City, 1994) Nancy Fierro writes: To a world torn by frenzied violence, Hildegard brings her view of a universe alive with divine wisdom and love.
Hildegard’s writings are richly-veined goldmines of wisdom for our lives today. Her words hold power because they come forth from the sacred union between herself and the divine presence within her. This is where her courage and clarity were sourced.
Yet even more than by the power of Hildegard’s words, I have been inspired, impelled, captivated by a single image. It comes from a 1994 BBC Documentary on Hildegard (starring Patricia Routledge of “Keeping Up Appearances”). 
Hildegard lived for many years in a double monastery, a community of both men and women, founded centuries earlier by Irish monks who traversed Europe like “Johnny Abbey-seeds”. As Hildegard grew in wisdom, the laxity of the monks and their take-over of the lands for their exclusive use led her to seek and finally gain permission to leave the monastery. In a stunning scene, this now fifty-year-old woman starts off walking, carrying a large cross, followed by a group of women, each carrying their few possessions, and their dowries, to start a new monastery.
A Chapter house with the sky for a roof and the grass as its floor. A woman of clarity, courage and profound trust in inner guidance. These are gifts and blessings for our Communion of Creative Fire. We’ll give Hildegard the last words, words in which she speaks on behalf of the Sacred Presence:
the Fiery Life of Divine Wisdom
Sparkle the waters
I burn in the Sun, 
in the Moon and the Stars

 

Kate’s Reflection 

My poem spoke of how Hildegard has had and continues to have impact on and in my life. She calls me to authenticity and courageous support of and for church reform especially in regard to justice for women in our church - for an acceptance of their gifts, their intelligence and their desire to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit in regard to ministry in our church. Hildegard's fearless outspoken call for the mutuality of masculine and feminine in our personal lives and in that of the institutional governance in our church is mirrored in my own convictions and desire for the same.

 

 

I am deeply touched by her description of a universe filled with the melody of God's Love. I find myself listening for that melody in the trees and the breezes, in the rain drops and even in the thunder and lightening of a fierce storm. And sometimes I catch a dissonance, a cacophony of sound when I become more aware of the plight of persons dispersed by the horrors of war, the people starving in refugee camps, the homeless and persons who have lost purpose and meaning for their lives. I pray to bring all into harmonic wholeness and that the collective fires of our Communion of Creative Fire will contribute to the "Unbearable Wholeness of Being" that Ilia Delio and Hildegard von Bingen have written about.  (Kate)

 

 

Hildegard’s Way of Knowing

Behold in the forty-third year of my age, while with a trembling effort and in great fear I fixed my gaze upon a celestial vision, I saw a very great splendour, from which a voice from Heaven came to me saying: “O fragile (woman), ashes of ashes and dust of dust, say and write what thou seest and hearest.

(from Hildegard’s Scivias translated by Francesca Maria Steele)

Hildegard’s theological brilliance, and the luminous visions she saw, seem to set her apart from us, and yet her way of knowing is not unlike our own. She listens deeply to a voice that comes from within her; she ponders the meaning of mysteries by reflecting on what she sees around her on the earth and in the sun, moon and stars; then she speaks of what she has come to know. 

When Hildegard reflects on the Trinity, she finds that a stone, a flame and a word each have three interacting virtues. In the stone, there is the virtue of moisture that keeps it from dissolving, the virtue of palpability when it is used for a  habitation, and the virtue of fire that it may be heated and consolidated to hardness. In the Trinity, Hildegard sees the virtue of moisture in the Father whose power is never dried up nor finished; in the Son she sees the grace of palpability for he is able to be touched and comprehended; the fiery power for her represents the Holy Spirit who kindles and illuminates human hearts. Looking at the powers of a flame, Hildegard sees its splendid light in the Father; its innate vigour in the wonders of the life of the Son and in its fiery heat, she discerns the Holy Spirit who gently kindles the minds and hearts of the faithful. Her third metaphor is word, for in a word there is a trinity of virtues: sound, power and breath. For Hildegard, sound denotes the creative manifestation of the Father, power speaks of the Son, wonderfully begotten of the Father, and breath speaks of the Spirit moving at will to accomplish all things.

Hildegard goes on to show through each of these instances of trinity an essential unity: 

Then as these three things are in one word, so also the supernal Trinity is in the supernal Unity: and as in a stone there is neither the virtue of moisture, without palpable comprehension, nor fiery power, nor palpable comprehension without the power of moisture, and the fiery vigour of a shining fire; neither the vigour of the shining fire, without the power of moisture and palpable comprehension; and as in a flame there is not, neither can there be caused, a splendid light without innate vigour and fiery heat, neither innate vigour without splendid light and fiery heat, neither fiery heat without splendid light and innate vigour, so in a word there neither is nor can be made a sound without power and breath, neither power without sound and breath, neither breath without sound and power, but these in their work are indivisibly inherent in each other, so also these three Persons of the supernal Trinity exist inseparably in the majesty of Divinity, neither are they divided from each other.  (from Hildegard’s Scivias translated by Francesca Maria Steele)

Hildegard’s image of Mary is of “the greenest twig”, pregnant with God’s life….

Hildegard carries in her heart some basic theological constructs, reflects upon them in love and then sees them mirrored back in nature. Do we not do much the same when we take time to contemplate life around us? Where, for instance, do we see Inter-relatedness mirrored? Radiance? Allurement? Synergy? Transformation? The Interconnection of all of life?

Ah, we say, but Hildegard was a genius… 

… that is not how Hildegard saw herself. In a letter to a younger German mystic, Elizabeth of Schonau, who had written seeking Hildegard’s advice and prayer, the older woman insisted that she spoke, not from her own power, but through the inspiration of God. Hildegard wrote:

…I who am prostrate in the feebleness of fear, occasionally give forth a small sound of the trumpet from the living light…

Here are a few of Hildegard’s small sound(s):

Men and women are the light green heart of the living fullness of nature. ( Avis Clendenen Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives Chiron Publications, Wilmette, Illinois, 2009 p.155)

As the Creator loves his creation, so creation loves the Creator. Creation, of course, was fashioned to be adorned, to be showered, to be gifted with the love of the Creator. The entire world has been embraced by this kiss.(trans.Gabriele Uhlein Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, Bear & Company, Rochester Vt.1983 p.53)

Human beings cannot live without the rest of nature, so they must care for all living things. (Robert Van de Weyer ed. 1997 Hildegard in a Nutshell London Hodder Headline p.34)

Even the stones under your feet worship God, for hidden within every stone is a divine spirit. (Robert Van de Weyer, ed. p.39) 

And in this Hymn, Hildegard’s words become a song that is a call to each of us:

God’s soul is the wind rustling plants and leaves,

the dew dancing on the grass,

the rainy breezes making everything to grow.

Just like this, the kindness of a person flows, touching

those dragging burdens of longing.

We should be a breeze helping the homeless,

Dew comforting those who are depressed,

The cool, misty air refreshing the exhausted,

And with God’s teaching we have got to feed the hungry:

This is how we share God’s word.

(Hildegard “Hymn” in Avis Clendenen Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives Chiron Publications, Wilmette, Illinois, 2009 p.162)

Hildegard and a Ruined Chapter House
As sources of inspiration for our 21st century Communion of Creative Fire, a 12th century Benedictine Nun and the ruined Chapter House of a 13th century Augustinian Nunnery would seem rather past their “best before” dates. But ancient roots still carry life, ancient places still hold mystery. And a 12th century woman who was inspired to write about her experience, her deep heart-knowing of God, has left us a treasure of wisdom that neither withers nor grows old.
 
Iona. Pilgrims, seekers, back-packing youth from across Europe and North America travel to this North Atlantic Island to spend time, to pray, to work as volunteers in the massive rebuilt abbey that once was home to a men’s community of Benedictine Monks. Just a short walk further along the road there are the ruins of a nunnery that no one has thought to rebuild. Yet its grassy space, open to the sky, with here and there a bit of ruined rock wall, draws more and more people. They come quietly to stand, to walk, to sit, to pray, under the open sky within the sound of the sea. Someone has planted a garden of flowers.
 
There is a powerful metaphor at work in Iona’s ruined nunnery, in the grassy space that was once the Chapter Room where women gathered to prayerfully reflect on their lives, to make the decisions that would guide their days in peace, that would guide their lives, keeping their hearts open to be containers for the sacred rain.
When I visited Iona in a chilly March day in 2010, I first went to the abbey, joining the community that lives there now for an evening prayer in the candle-lit chapel on the abbey grounds. But in the morning light I was drawn back to the ruined nunnery. I read the names of abbesses engraved on the stone walls, wondered about their lives, unwilling to leave the peace and beauty I found there. Later, as I travelled away from Iona on the ferry, a construction worker who commuted to Iona told me that the ruined nunnery was his favourite place, because of the peace he finds there.
 
A few months after my visit to Iona, I read Philip Newell’s book The Christ of the Celts. In his closing chapter, written in the ruins of the nunnery, he says:
 “Here on Iona I find myself wanting more often to pray in the ruined nunnery than in the rebuilt abbey church. And I am not alone in this desire. Although all of the attention historically has been focused on the reconstructed thirteenth-century Benedictine Abbey, a place of masculine spirituality, rather than on the ruins of the neglected Augustinian Nunnery of the same period, a place of feminine spirituality, we are in the midst of a shift”.  
 
Newell goes on to say how the ruined nunnery has become “a place where countless individuals pray in solitude and where groups of pilgrims can be found offering impromptu rituals and songs for the healing of the earth”.
 
Seeking reasons for this, Newell cites its roofless, wall-less openness to creation, as well as its history as a place of "relationship, of intentional community and devotion to Christ.... and through it all a conscious yearning for the Living Presence".
 Then he adds,
"But the nunnery is also a ruin. It is a place that reflects the brokenness of our lives and our world as well as the failure of our religious institutions. It is a place that states clearly that we have not got it right and that we do not yet know exactly what shape the emerging spirituality of today will take. It is also a place that resounds with the neglect of the feminine that has so crippled our Western cultures  and spirituality. It is this that many of us are longing for in the spiritual journey of the world today, a recognition that our imperial religious inheritance is collapsing and that we desperately need  to reintegrate the mystical, intuitive, and earth-related fragrances of the feminine if we are to be alive to the deepest yearnings of the human soul." (J. Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts  Jossy-Bass pub. San Francisco  2008 pp 124-6)
Mystical. Intuitive. Earth-related. (Hildegard. That’s your cue!)
In a beautifully illustrated book, Hildegard and Her Vision of the Feminine, (Carondelet Productions, Sheed and Ward, Kansas City, 1994) Nancy Fierro writes: To a world torn by frenzied violence, Hildegard brings her view of a universe alive with divine wisdom and love. Hildegard's writings are a richly-veined goldmine of wisdom for our lives today. Her words hold power because they come forth from the sacred union between herself and the divine presence within her. This is where her courage and her clarity were sourced.
Yet even more than by the power of Hildegard’s words, I have been inspired, impelled, captivated by a single image. It comes from a 1994 BBC Documentary on Hildegard (starring Patricia Routledge of “Keeping Up Appearances”).
Hildegard lived for many years in a double monastery, a community of both men and women, founded centuries earlier by Irish monks who traversed Europe like “Johnny Abbey-seeds”. As Hildegard grew in wisdom, the laxity of the monks and their take-over of the lands for their exclusive use led her to seek and finally gain permission to leave the monastery.
In a stunning scene, this now fifty-year-old woman starts off walking, carrying a large cross, followed by a group of women, each carrying their few possessions, and their dowries, to start a new monastery.
A Chapter House with the sky for a roof and the grass as its floor. A woman of clarity, courage and profound trust in inner guidance. These are gifts and blessings for our Communion of Creative Fire.
We'll give Hildegard the last words, words in which she speaks on behalf of the Sacred Presence:
I,
the Fiery Life of Divine Wisdom,
Sparkle the waters,
I burn in the Sun,
in the moon and the Stars.  

 

Hildegard and a Ruined Chapter House

As sources of inspiration for our 21st century Communion of Creative Fire, a 12th century Benedictine Nun and the ruined Chapter House of a 13th century Augustinian Nunnery would seem rather past their “best before” dates. But ancient roots still carry life, ancient places still hold mystery. And a 12th century woman who was inspired to write about her experience, her deep heart-knowing of God, has left us a treasure of wisdom that neither withers nor grows old.

Iona. Pilgrims, seekers, back-packing youth from across Europe and North America travel to this North Atlantic Island to spend time, to pray, to work as volunteers in the massive rebuilt abbey that once was home to a men’s community of Benedictine Monks. Just a short walk further along the road there are the ruins of an Augustinian Nunnery that no one has thought to rebuild. Yet its grassy space, open to the sky, with here and there a bit of ruined rock wall, draws more and more people. They come quietly to stand, to walk, to sit, to pray, under the open sky within the sound of the sea. Someone has planted a garden of flowers. 

There is a powerful metaphor at work in Iona’s ruined nunnery, in the grassy space that was once the Chapter Room where women gathered to prayerfully reflect on their lives, to make the decisions that would guide their days in peace, that would guide their lives, keeping their hearts open to be containers for the sacred rain.

When I visited Iona in a chilly March day in 2010, I first went to the abbey, joining the community that lives there now for an evening prayer in the candle-lit chapel on the abbey grounds. But in the morning light I was drawn back to the ruined nunnery. I read the names of abbesses engraved on the stone walls, wondered about their lives, unwilling to leave the peace and beauty I found there. Later, as I travelled away from Iona on the ferry, a construction worker who commuted to Iona told me that the ruined nunnery was his favourite place, because of the peace he finds there.

 

A few months after my visit to Iona, I read Philip Newell’s book The Christ of the Celts. In his closing chapter, written in the ruins of the nunnery, he says:

"Here on Iona I find myself wanting more often to pray in the ruined nunnery than in the rebuilt abbey church. And I am not alone in this desire." 

Newell goes on to say how the ruined nunnery has become

"a place where countless individuals pray in solitude and where groups of pilgrims can be found offering impromptu rituals and songs for the healing of the earth".

Seeking reasons for this, Newell cites its roofless, wall-less openness to creation, as well as its history as a place  of relationship, of intentional community and devotion to Christ.....and through it all a conscious yearning for the Living Presence.

Then he adds,

"But the nunnery is also a ruin. It is a place that reflects the brokenness of our lives and our world as well as the failure of our religious institutions. It is a place that states clearly that we have not got it right and that we do not yet know exactly what shape the emerging spirituality of today will take. It is also a place that resounds with the neglect of the feminine that has so crippled our Western cultures and spirituality. It is this that many of us are longing for in the spiritual journey of the world today, a recognition that our imperial religious inheritance is collapsing and that we desperately need  to reintegrate the mystical, intuitive, and earth-related fragrances of the feminine if we are to be alive to the deepest yearnings of the human soul." (J. Philip Newell, Christ of the Celts Jossy-Bass pub. San Francisco 2008 pp. 124-6)

Mystical. Intuitive. Earth-related. (Hildegard. That’s your cue!)

In a beautifully illustrated book, Hildegard and Her Vision of the Feminine, (Carondelet Productions, Sheed and Ward, Kansas City, 1994) Nancy Fierro writes: To a world torn by frenzied violence, Hildegard brings her view of a universe alive with divine wisdom and love.

Hildegard’s writings are richly-veined goldmines of wisdom for our lives today. Her words hold power because they come forth from the sacred union between herself and the divine presence within her. This is where her courage and clarity were sourced.

Yet even more than by the power of Hildegard’s words, I have been inspired, impelled, captivated by a single image. It comes from a 1994 BBC Documentary on Hildegard (starring Patricia Routledge of “Keeping Up Appearances”). 

Hildegard lived for many years in a double monastery, a community of both men and women, founded centuries earlier by Irish monks who traversed Europe like “Johnny Abbey-seeds”. As Hildegard grew in wisdom, the laxity of the monks and their take-over of the lands for their exclusive use led her to seek and finally gain permission to leave the monastery. In a stunning scene, this now fifty-year-old woman starts off walking, carrying a large cross, followed by a group of women, each carrying their few possessions, and their dowries, to start a new monastery.

A Chapter house with the sky for a roof and the grass as its floor. A woman of clarity, courage and profound trust in inner guidance. These are gifts and blessings for our Communion of Creative Fire. We’ll give Hildegard the last words, words in which she speaks on behalf of the Sacred Presence:

the Fiery Life of Divine Wisdom

Sparkle the waters

I burn in the Sun, 

in the Moon and the Stars

 

Hildegard and the Communion of Creative Fire

 

On this lush autumn afternoon, I sit outdoors beside the river, watching as it catches colour from the trees, creating a drowned garden, red, orange and gold.

 

I am thinking about Hildegard, one of the “founding mothers” of the Communion of Creative Fire. I am looking for the ways her life and ours are inter-related. Beside me on the picnic table, precariously piled in higgledy-piggledy fashion, are some dozen books that tell me everything about Hildegard except what I seek.

 

So I leave the books, leave the warmth and splendour of this day, re-enter in memory a mid-January day in the cold heart of winter. I recall once more Jean Houston’s words coming to me through the phone, igniting the fire that would become our Communion: 

 

Bring forward the legacy of religious communities into a new order of creative souls... music, literature, creative constructs...like Hildegard who engendered a different knowing from the depths of her reflections.

 

I see Hildegard more clearly, begin to see the resonances. This woman, who has been credited with being the first spiritual ecologist, created polyphonic musical harmonies that were centuries ahead of her time, wrote poetry and plays, and created luminous artwork inspired by her mystical visions. Hildegard also wrote theological treatises that were praised by Pope Eugenius and Bernard of Clairvaux. In the midst of a strongly patriarchal Church, Hildegard rose up, proclaiming the full power of the feminine, chastising wrong in Church and State wherever she saw it.

 

In her spare time she grew herbs, studied their medicinal properties, wrote articles discussing the treatment of many ailments. Hildegard also wrote about the inter-relatedness of all the orders in the medieval world, as well as the relationship among all aspects of life on earth.

 

Yet far from being burdened with gravitas, Hildegard wrote about “greening power”, which she named “viriditas”. She called Jesus, “viriditas incarnate” and invited us all to become “a flowering orchard”. Hildegard wrote of seeing “a mighty and immeasurable marvelousness…to be enjoyed with delight…sweetest ecstasy.”

 

Almost a millennium before today’s physicists, Hildegard understood the interconnection of all of life, stating that everything in heaven, on the earth and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, with relatedness. Before Teilhard or Thomas Berry or Brian Swimme described the Powers of the Universe, Hildegard declared that there is no creature that does not have a radiance.

 

So, you may wonder, which of those gigantic accomplishments of Hildegard are we called to imitate?

 

Happily, none of them.  Yet our call in the Communion of Creative Fire is at heart the same as hers: to engender a different knowing from the depth of our reflection. Jean Houston speaks of Hildegard as “co-creating with the cosmos”.

 

It is from the depth of our daily prayer, the time committed each day to deep listening, that different knowings will be engendered. They will arise from within us, and slowly among us, as we continue to share what we hear. Then the co-creation with the cosmos will be happening in and among us. Music? Perhaps. Poetry? New ways to care for the earth? New forms of inter-relatedness within our families, our local communities, even our towns and cities? New ways to speak about God with our children? New ways of seeing ourselves as loved and cherished by God, rather than as flawed or rejected?

 

When I first invited you to become part of this Communion I suggested that we each be a “cup to catch the sacred rain”. Perhaps you might wish to place a cup in your prayer space as a reminder. That sacred rain will moisten the earth. New life will spring forth. On behalf of the Holy One, Hildegard wrote:

I am the rain

coming from the dew

that causes the grasses

to laugh with the joy of life.

 

 

Greetings from Rosemary:

 I’ve returned from my retreat on Iona where I spent some time each day in the Chapter House in the ruins of the Nunnery, Our Gathering Place.  One day I even did R’un, our Celtic Meditation, there with all of you in mind.

 

I want to share with you one of my journal entries from my time on Iona but not until I give you some background information.  The Ceile De, the Celtic group, has three levels...the Caim, general membership...the Muintirr, similar to a third order.... and, the Order.  Four of the members of the Caim were going to take part in a ceremony at sunrise on a beach, Port Bon, signifying their decision to join the Muintirr during that week.  Each of the four spent the night before the ceremony keeping vigil.

 

7/27/13  The plan for this morning, the day of the Muintirr ceremony, was that I would meet Eve and Beau at Torassa gate (my B&B) at 4:45am and walk together to Port Bon (the beach where the ceremony would take place) for the ceremony scheduled for 5:30am, sunrise, since I didn’t know where the beach was.  I went to bed at 10:03pm, anxious to wake up on time.  I woke at 12:30am and again at 2:30am.  When I woke again I read the clock as 5:00am, upset that I had overslept.  I dressed quickly, knocked on Fionn’s door but got no answer.  I rushed outside to the gate but no one was there.  I came back to my room upset and ashamed of myself for oversleeping and deeply disappointed that I would miss the ceremony.   I sat on my bed witnessing this when I remembered that Beau had mentioned that Port Bon was on the west side of the island.  I remembered hearing a couple the day before discussing not going to the White Strand but to the North End and pointing in that direction.  I figured if I knew the direction of the North End of the island I could figure out which way was west.

 

It was dark with moonlight shining when I started down the road.  It was an easy road to walk and I hoped that eventually I might reach a point where I would hear chanting and be able to find the group.  After walking for a while, I began to think...it’s dark and I don’t know where I’m going.  This is crazy!  I stopped for a moment, called out to Ishmani, my personal guide, to join me and I set out again. 

 

Eventually, the road ended with a gate to a field.  I opened the gate and began walking along a path until I came to a fork in the path.  I thought, what do I do now?  I could go in the wrong direction.  I decided to try anyway and took the path to the right but soon realized it was taking me away from the water.  I went back to the fork and took the other path.  I followed it for a while until it ended.  Then, I began walking on the grass.  Finally, I came to another gate that led to a field of sheep.  I grew up in the city.  I didn’t know anything about sheep or how they would react if someone came into their field.  I decided to go in slowly and see what happened.  When I walked into the field the sheep just moved aside and let me pass.

 

From time to time during my journey, I saw a figure with white pants and a dark top in the distance.  Then, it would disappear.  When I left the field of sheep I saw it again.  I rushed toward it asking, “Do you know where Port Bon is?”  It held up its hands in front of its face as if to ward me off.  Then, I realized it was my friend, Seumas, who was on vigil.  I felt awful, said, “I’m sorry” and turned away.  He answered, “Over there” and pointed.  I walked in that direction toward the beach but no one was there.  I saw a figure up on a cliff that looked like Deirdre, another person on vigil.  When I got to the beach I saw Carol, also on vigil.  I didn’t want to intrude on their vigils but I didn’t want to let them out of my sight either.  I looked around and saw I high cliff.  I began to climb it and finally got to the top.  From there, I could look down and see Seumas sitting on the rocks and Paula walking along the beach.  I could also see the pass I had walked through to get there.  After sitting there for quite a while, I realized I must have misread the clock.  It was probably 3:00am, not 5:00am when I awoke.  Sitting there felt right, just where I needed to be.  Finally, I saw these tiny figures coming through the pass and I recognized them.  I slowly climbed down from the cliff and joined the group to prepare for and witness the ceremony.  

 

The learning I took from my journey was that when I am in the midst of chaos in my life, I must get out of my own way, let go of my fears and worries, and trust things will work out for me.”

 Blessings,  Rosemary 

 

 A Feather on the Breath of God

Although unofficially recognized as a saint throughout the centuries, Hildegard von Bingen is now formally known as a Doctor of the Church, not only for the extraordinary influence she had had upon the theological teachings of her own day, but for the transformative quality of her everlasting wisdom….

In order to honor this woman of all time and as today is her feast day, September 17th, I offer you this meditation/ visualization in which our Communion of Creative Fire visits with Hildegard in her lovely, ethereal medieval garden filled with the delights of the heart and soul….

Please close your eyes and, with each inhalation and exhalation, begin to breathe more deeply until you come into a place of peace….  Envision yourself traveling gently and gradually into the far distant past upon the grand winged steed Pegasus….  Feel the healing warmth of the Sun and the slight spray of the morning dew on your face as the wind greets you on your voyage…. 

After alighting and thanking Pegasus for guiding you safely to

your chosen destination, you are met by none other than St. Hildegard, a woman you have long admired and whose renown has extended for centuries….  You exchange pleasantries and she gestures for you to join her in what appears to be a sacred place in the center of her very own Garden of Eden, a Paradise of sorts, perhaps not unlike the Elysian Fields….  You are met there with a feast for the senses….  The colors rival those found in the most glorious rainbow you have ever seen…, the scent of lavender, wafting in the breeze, delights your olfactory system…, the “music of the spheres” is evident in every sound you hear in the melodious serenity that surrounds you—and is always a part of you—and the heartfelt love that exists at your very core—your own sacre coeur, as it were…. 

It is just then that you emerge from your moment of reverie, and when you look up, Hildegard smiles and asks you to meet, some for the very first time, the women of our circle, our “Communion of Creative Fire,” each of whom is seated upon a stone bench that encircles a large labyrinth, or dromenon, fashioned out of Hildegard’s own field of lavender that she has created especially for her feast day—and for this ceremonial gathering….

She suggests that we honor and bless where we are, both individually and collectively, as we walk the spiral path that stands before us on this day—and for the rest of our lives….  When we reach our center—and that within the labyrinth, as well, we are met with the sacred and ceremonial fire of purification….  It is not a fire that burns, but a Divine Spark that illuminates—it glows with a warmth and clarity that does not exist anywhere else….  Please remember, she says, “Whenever you wish to find your Spark, all you need do is close your eyes and look within….”  

After each member of the group takes her turn along the personal inner passage before her and returns to her place at the invisible “Table of the Round,” she is presented with a scrumptious and savory dessert, lovingly and unerringly prepared just for her….

It is now that Hildegard inquires if we are fully aware of our reason for being here—and together….  Almost immediately, it dawns on us that we do indeed know why we are here, both at this gathering—and on Planet Earth at this crucial time in human history.  As you may know by my own words, Hildegard continues, “I [am] a feather on the breath of God,” as are each of you….  “Like billowing clouds, Like the incessant gurgle of the brook, The longing of the spirit can never be stilled,” and it pleases God to know that you are here, are a seeker and wish to be what Jean Houston calls a “midwife of souls,” always evoking the potential in those with whom you come into contact….

“Before we depart, at least for now,” Hildegard reminds us, “Always remember to reflect upon the stillness of water and grace as that is who and what you are—a timeless being whose birthright resides in the very Oneness of the Universe….  Until next time, fare thee well….”

You turn to wish the members of your newly formed “Communion of Creative Fire” a safe journey back to their respective homes, and say a “Special Thank You” to Hildegard before you wait for Pegasus to fly you home once again….

As you continue along your excursion through space and time as you return to the present, accompanied by that famed creature of myth, you are able to communicate (without words) your gratitude for his willingness to grant you the gift of flight….  This time, you feel the coolness of the Moon’s iridescent rays upon your face….

Upon your arrival, you comprehend to a greater extent where your true purpose lies, and how you may be of greater service to the world….

From this place of peace, once again become aware of your surroundings—whether in your room, or wherever you may have been when you first started this inward journey…, and with each inhalation and exhalation, more fully return to your awakened state….

You may wish to journal anything that had called to you during your voyage inward at this time….

Namaste….   Adriana 

  


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