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In today’s lection of Lesser Feasts and Fasts we remember Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).  Hildegard was an highly regarded mystic speaking the truth of the feminine characteristics and images of God in a decidely masculine age.

Hildgard portrayed writing of her Divine Visions

Hildgard portrayed writing of her Divine Visions

As she was given to ecstatic and profound visions of the Divine from an early age, she devoted herself to a life of prayer later becoming Abbess of three different Convent Houses in the Rhine Valley of present day Germany.

After some 35 years, at the age of 43, she began to write of the visions that had filled her consciousness and prayerful vision.  Bernard of Clairvaux recommended the book of these visions, the Liber Scivias to Pope Eusebius III.  Upon reading the wondrously luminous descriptions of God’s presence in the whole of creation, Eusebius authorized Hildegard to embark upon a number of preaching missions across Northern Europe.

For me what Hildegard holds up in her life for everyday modern believers is a model of what can happen should we make the choice to pay attention and to expect to see extraordinary, Divine, things in what we would normally view as ordinary.

Hildegard saw powerful images of God in the world that nearly everyone took to be mundane in the most literal sense of that word.  In the natural, to borrow a phrase from Sam Portaro in Brightest and Best: A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts, Hildegard saw ‘not the fantastic, but the supernatural.’ This, in Sam’s analysis, is not that she imagined things that were not there, but rather saw things not as they simply are, but rather as reflective images of the Creator that spoke them all into being.  Each flower, each rock, each animal, each person–in Hildegards cosmology–bore the indelible imprint of the Divine and that all that is required to be blessed with the visions of the Divine in the ordinary is a willingness to pay attention.

In many ways we are an Attention-Deficit culture.  May Hildegard’s life, vision and witness inspire us to slow down and EXPECT to see God in the ordinary, each and everyday.

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August 2020

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