From The Rector…
There This past Lent, Becky has led a teaching on Hildegard von Bingen. She was a German Benedictine abbess, a medieval saint, prophet, and mystic. She was born in 1098 and died in 1179. She is known especially for her contributions to music, science, and medicinal herbs. She also experienced visions and wrote copiously regarding their theology, not to mention all of her other pursuits and interests. She was not made a “full’ saint until 2012 at which time she was also made a “Doctor of the Church” by Pope Benedict XVI. It’s not Hildegard’s resume that makes her so accomplished. It is that she is still relevant and influential even one thousand years later.
Hildegard encourages us to be active in the pursuit and nourishment of our spiritual life. It is this focused activity that has been so powerful for me this Lent. I love to chant—so the night we got to chant one of Hildegard’s pieces was beautiful. But even more so, Becky encouraged us to go outside and chant along with the world. We didn’t have to make up words, just chant the deep sounds that resonate with creation at its most basic level. An intensely beautiful and connecting kind of spiritual practice.
On another night, we were encouraged to practice forgiveness—beginning with our very bodies. I had never thought about how forgiveness is dependent upon my willingness to forgive not simply myself—the mistakes I might make or thoughts I might have—but my very physical, material presence—my bones and joints, muscles and sinews. This was incredibly powerful for me as I have spent the last three years of my life and the first three years of my call at Ascension dealing with sickness and pain. In a lot of ways, I have felt bereft of the ability to engage fully into the life of this parish and to be fully engaged. That has haunted me especially since, in the course of healing, we entered into pandemic which even further separated me from a congregation I so desperately wanted to get to know and love. Learning how Hildegard prioritized the need to forgive one’s physical body was so helpful in my realizing I had to forgive my own body for the times that it has let me down if I am to move forward into wholeness and renewal. That practice of forgiveness might be rooted in the body, but it is necessary for me to do in order to open up to the relationships that I hope to make and grow.
Chant, Qi-Jong (which was the movement we did to forgive our bodies), writing Haiku poetry in response to the psalms, breath meditation on stillness, and art have all nurtured my spiritual life this Lent. This Wednesday will be our last class on Hildegard when Becky brings it all together for us. But it won’t be my final work with Hildegard. She has offered me insight and clarity in discovering new and refreshing ways to find my way back to spiritual centeredness and I look forward to how she might continue to break open my heart in creative ways to God.
Not that I am very good at Haiku’s, but I offer you this one based upon Psalm 131:
My love is the ground
It is my quiet and peace
God alone is love
Blessings this Holy Week as we turn our faces toward Jerusalem.
Light and Life,