For Hildegard, words are alive, and take many forms. Word is music, a “resounding melody” inherent in every being and found in every corner of the universe.
The whole universe vibrates with music, making melody. “God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.” Word, music and light go together. The Light in all things is the Cosmic Christ and it lives. “The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity.”
Indeed, “all creation is awakened, called, by the resounding melody, God’s invocation of the Word.” For Hildegard, the “Word manifests in every creature.” The divine Logos is everywhere and in everything–this is the meaning of incarnation, the marriage of flesh and spirit. “This is how the spirit is in the flesh–the Word is indivisible from God.”
With permission I share two poems by Mary Oliver in a chapter of my Hildegard book. The first begins this way:
likes to dress up like this:
shoulders, and all the rest…
She tells us that spirit could float—but prefers to “plumb rough matter….” And so “it enters us”–fingers, shoulders and all. Clearly, Hildegard and Mary Oliver are on the same page announcing the incarnation and the holiness of the flesh. Both flee from dualism, that bedrock of patriarchal fear.
A second Mary Oliver poem I eagerly reproduce in this chapter on “The Cosmic Christ and Living Light” is named “At the River Clarion.” It is a poem about how divinity dwells in all things, and it begins with this humble sentence, “I don’t know who God is exactly.”
How many blowhard preachers and politicians have you run across who know for sure who God is exactly? And how many people have suffered and died because of the sureness of such colonial and righteous mindsets?
Oliver shares her time sitting on a rock in a river and listening deeply until she heard the rock and water and moss declare, “I am part of holiness.” The divine—the Christ, Buddha Nature, or Tselem (image of God) lies embedded in all things.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, “Living Words and the Cosmic Christ: Hildegard Meets Mary Oliver” in Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century, pp. 11-14, 17-22.
See also Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.
See also Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet.
Banner Image: A river rushes over stones in the Siberian wilderness. Photo by pure julia on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
How do Hildegard and Mary Oliver speak to you of the deeper layers embedded in nature and our everyday life experiences? How do they make “incarnation” come alive for you?
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.
Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen
An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition. At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.” – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.
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 Fundamentalism, Living in Sin