There’s a lovely article about Hildegard of Bingen by Erin Risch Zountendam posted this morning on the blog “Earth and Altar.” Hildegard, one of the four female doctors of the Western Church, was a theologian, a prophet, a mystic and a naturalist. Her life and her theology is, to my mind, one of the clearest examples of my argument that most scientists are, in truth, mystics at heart – seeking to understand a deeper meaning and connection in everyday experiences.
Hildegard’s theological writings have proven no less compelling today than in her own. The themes that resonate with modern readers are different from those that interested her 12th-century audiences, but they are no less rich. Of particular interest to modern readers is Hildegard’s relationship to creation. Hildegard is celebrated for her image of viriditas, or “greenness,” which is associated with life, moral goodness, and vigor—that is, with anything fruitful and thriving that the Holy Spirit brings into existence and sustains. The cosmos itself is alive with the electrifying power of God, who says to Hildegard in one of her visions:
“I am the supreme fire and energy. I have kindled all the sparks of the living … I am the fiery life of divine substance, I blaze above the beauty of the fields, I shine in the waters, I burn in sun, moon, and stars. And I awaken all to life with every wind of the air, as with invisible life that sustains everything. For the air lives in greenness and fecundity. The waters flow as though they are alive.” (7)
The incarnation of Christ, too, is described as being brought about by the Father’s “sweet power of green vigour.” (8) This theme in Hildegard’s writing has proven especially attractive to contemporary ecotheologians, as well as to nature lovers of all kinds.
It’s worth your time at some point on this, the first day of Spring. Probably worth your subscribing to their other posts as well!