Hildegard describes how wisdom is at work on a daily basis in creation:
I, the fiery life of divine wisdom,
I ignite the beauty of the plains
I sparkle the waters,
I burn in the sun,
And the moon,
And the stars.
With wisdom I order All rightly.
Above all, I determine truth.
And with this “I am” poem:
I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain
Coming from the dew
That causes the grasses to laugh
With the joy of life.
I call forth tears
The aromas of holy work.
I am the yearning for good.
In an almost prescient way, Hildegard speaks, from 800 years ago, of our current crisis of climate change and collapse of earth systems. First, she warns us about lies.
Humankind does well to keep honesty, to keep to truth.
Those that love lies bring suffering not only to themselves but to others as well, since they are driven to ever more lies.
These lies are like juiceless foam, hard and black.
Lacking the verdancy of justice, it is dry, totally without tender goodness, totally without illuminating virtue.
To choose to be in denial is to choose lies.
Next, she warns us about ignoring the suffering of Mother Earth.
Now in the people that were meant to green, there is no more life of any kind. There is only shriveled barrenness.
The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil,
The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples.
There pours forth an unnatural, a loathsome darkness,
That withers the green,
And wizens the fruit
That was to serve as food for the people.
Sometimes the layer of air is full, full of a fog that is the source of many destructive and barren creatures, that destroy and damage the earth, rendering it incapable of sustaining humanity.
God wants the Earth to thrive. God desires that all the world be pure in his sight.
The earth should not be injured!
The earth should not be destroyed!
Warnings abound. Are we listening?
As often as the elements, the elements of the world are violated by ill-treatment, so God will cleanse them.
God will cleanse them through the sufferings, through the hardships of humankind.
And another warning—it is not God who will punish humanity but creation itself.
The high, the low, all of creation, God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God’s Justice permits creation to punish humanity.
Citations are from in Gabriel Uhlein, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, pp. 30f., 76-80.
See also: Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power for the 21st Century.
Banner image: “Syncrude Tailings Dam, Fort McMurray, Alberta. The yellow structures are the bases of pyramids made of sulphur…Behind that is the tailings pond, held in by what is recognized as the largest dam in the world.” Photo by TastyCakes, color editing by Jamitzky. Public Domain on Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Have you taken time to hear the grasses laughing? How does it sound? What does it do for your mood and your soul?
Do you experience Divine Wisdom on the sparkling of the waters and the burning of the stars and in the yearning for good?
Do you sense a cleansing going on and a justice from creation itself due to our neglect of creation and our preoccupation with our own, often narcissistic, agendas?
Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century
Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.