October 9, 2011

Greening Time

Having just returned from a week in WI, I am stepping aside from Acts to ponder for just a moment the meditations of Hildegard of Bingen who speaks a lot about the ‘greening’ of God’s people. Being in the lush green-ness of WI, so different from the Southwest, I was again and again reminded of Hildegard’s meditations.

Hildegard was a nun in the 12th century. She was honored by Popes at a time in history when women’s work was normally ignored. Her homeland of Bavaria was lush and green like the hills and dells of Wisconsin. I can now more deeply understand her metaphors of greening and verdancy than before. I want to share just a few of her sayings with you this week, instead of Paul's work as found in Acts.

Sometimes it is necessary and important to get out of your normal routine and even out of your familiar home territory. God meets us when we take the time to get away. One of my favorite of Hildegard's sayings is this:

Good People, most royal greening verdancy, rooted in the sun, you shine with radiant light. In this circle of earthly existence you shine so finely, it surpasses understanding. God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.

Nearly all Hildegard’s writings talk of God and our life in God as growing, greening, blossoming in rich variety and abundance. In the previous saying, she reminds us that we are God’s beloved and the ‘most royal greening verdancy’.

God is seen, by Hildegard as ALL and always working, yet always full and complete: I am life complete unto itself, whole, sound, not needing stones to be sculpted, not needing branches to blossom, not rooted in human potency. Rather, all life has its root in me. Understanding is the root. The resounding WORD blossoms forth from it. How then, is it possible for God not to be at work? God is Understanding.

“The WORD blossoms forth from [the root of all life, all understanding].” Seeing the richness of the woods of Wisconsin, where even the trails are covered with ferns and the fallen trunks are covered with moss, I was impressed with this verse at the life and greening springing forth seemingly effortlessly from even what seems dead and useless.

Hildegard also notes that all creation celebrates God. The beautiful variety of fall colors in Wisconsin seemed to testify to the truth of her saying: “The blowing wind, the mild, moist air, the exquisite greening of trees and grasses-in their beginning, in their ending, they give God their praise.”

Most of all during the week of retreat and vacation I was reminded that “In serving God, humankind is much loved by him. God is delighted by humankind. Indeed, God himself has created humankind and given it all worth. God allows himself to be disturbed by it!”

"God is delighted by humankind!" Too often we forget that, until we get away and have time to just 'be' in the midst of God's creation.

The retreat I assisted with was about being willing to have faith and dive into the water of God’s love. Being surrounded by the water and green-ness of Wisconsin I was acutely aware of the richness of God’s love and greening power. Wherever you are on the continuum of desert time or vivid growing time in the Lord, I pray you are blessed by these meditations of Hildegard. If you can, take some time, even an hour to drive into the country and enjoy the beauty of nature. Every part of the world has a part of God's beauty and so too, each of us is a part of God's delight.

Next week, we will return to Acts and see how Paul fared in Greece.

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