Hildegard on Humans as Co-Creators Whose Vocation is to Create

Hildegard sees creativity at the core of our vocation as human beings, and pictures God saying, I have been moved by the form of humankind, I have kissed it, grounded it in faithful relationship. Thus I have exalted humankind with the vocation of creation. I call humankind to the same norm.

In The Unruly Mystic: Saint Hildegard of Bingen, filmmaker Michael Conti explores Hildegard’s role as a patron saint of creativity.

 We have a vocation to create, which is why we are exalted as co-creators. This is our nobility, but also our serious responsibility.

“Humankind is full of all creative possibility,” Hildegard asserts: Humankind is God’s work [and] called to assist God and called to co-create. We can set into creation all that is necessary and life-sustaining.  She is confident of our capacity to create and to make a difference.

For Hildegard, the Cosmic Christ is integral to our creativity, for “the Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.”  

St. Stanislav Girls’ Choir of the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana, Slovenia, sings Hildegard’s chant “De Spiritu Sancto” (Holy Spirit, The Quickener Of Life). Video by zevnikov.

For Hildegard, greening and creativity are synonyms. The divine presence is at work in us both as Holy Spirit and as the Word or the Cosmic Christ. “In the beginning was the Word.”

Hildegard recognizes “two aspects to humanity: the singing of praise to God and the doing of good works.”  The via positiva is our praise, while the doing of good works is a combination of the via creativa and via transformativa.  “It is in praise and service that the surprise of God is consummated.” You might say our creative work is the surprise of God.

Forest stream near Nooksack Falls, Bellingham, Washington. Photo by Dylan Luder on Unsplash

Hildegard recognizes the damage we can with our powers of creativity– eco-wars, societal wars and much more.  But she is hopeful we’ll make the right choices with our creativity.

Are we dry or wet?  Says Hildegard, When a forest does not green vigorously, then it is no longer a forest. When a tree does not blossom, it cannot bear fruit. Likewise, a person cannot be fruitful without the greening power of faith. The soul that is full of wisdom is saturated with the spray of a bubbling fountain, God himself/herself.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, pp. 93-95.

See also Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.

Banner Image: “Touch.” Photo by One zone Studio on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you experience  your and humanity’s creativity as a vocation?   In what ways?  And do you experience your soul sometimes “saturated with the spray of a bubbling fountain, God herself?

Recommended Reading

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.

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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6 thoughts on “Hildegard on Humans as Co-Creators Whose Vocation is to Create”

  1. Avatar

    Creativity has as its source in the Science of technology and power of life. Science can invent weapons of mass destruction and the ability to find the best way to feed the world of beings and supply our basic needs. Humans have the self importance of the knowledge of Good and Evil, the power this gives us over others and the accumulated wealth from the good we get out of evil acts. The Creativity of the self importance of each interdependent partical of matter is first. This gives us the power of the Spirit in the Tree of life. Then we cocreate with the Spirt the wealth of the fullness and abundance of Life promised for all. We begin with food and forgiveness. The evolution will then be able to speed up the direction towards “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. So be it.”

    1. Avatar

      “Humans have the self importance of the knowledge of Good and Evil, the power this gives us over others and the accumulated wealth from the good we get out of evil acts.”

      Peter, your statement is in line with my recent push for people to address the environmental impact of humanity’s weapons of mass destruction, a fact rarely acknowledged in the media. Even climate change scientists don’t mention it. The military industrial complex is the golden calf that is worshiped around the globe. Wealth and control are the motives behind our assault on Mother Earth. Dare I name it as a ‘gang bang’ on the living planet. The big lie is that our bombs will make us safer. The promise that guns will make citizens safer is the prevailing lie in the USA.

  2. Avatar

    Yes, our Eternal Souls are indeed full of DIVINE LOVE & WISDOM “… saturated with the spray of a bubbling fountain, God himself/herself.” Our vocation is to consciously realize and manifest/embody this LOVING CO-CREATIVE PRESENCE within and among Us each in our own unique creative way in our Compassionate service and LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS with one another in Our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS, especially with our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and all of Her creatures and graceful abundance in the sacred process/flow of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  3. Avatar
    Barbara McGurran

    Creativity comes from the gifts of the Spirit, inspiration, intuition and imagination. These gifts freely given to each one of us birth creativity constantly. We in our own way and on own spiritual path walking in Spirits light use these precious gifts as we shine our light in this world.

  4. Avatar

    Hildegard had an expanded vision of vocation. The question I sense she asked of herself is “What is WORTHY of REQUIRING my DEDICATION?” She then seems to me, to have spent the rest of her life, leaning into and intutively, imaginatively and creatively answering this.

    Perhaps this is the way in which we should ask the question, when seeking to understand our vocation?

  5. Avatar

    I am just starting to get into this seemingly new “lingo”. I wonder at all the possibilities. It seems to become a language without many rules, or with rules that require divine perception. Creativity can be boundless or bound, creation means coming up with something new, or a new way. Each of us tries to reinterpret in our own expressions using words with new or expanded meaning. It is one thing to say, and another to do. Perhaps a Zenlike interpretation of the gospels. I’m trying! But with all this reinterpretation it feels much like a school of fish with each squiggling in its own unique and creative direction yielding a form of chaos. I believe that in lending ourselves to the guidance and direction of our creator we become co-creators, and that we are working together with God in a co-conspiracy against our more basic human instincts, to reveal an as yet uncomprehended and altogether new form of existence, one that I hope could redeem the wayward and evil constituencies of humankind.

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