Terra Viriditatem Sudat – the earth sweats out green things growing – – Hildegard von Bingen
Last night I was pleased to join #MagnificatMary and Peter, Vicky and Bjarne Andersen as we greened the front entrance of St Aidan’s. It was a lovely evening. It was the kind of night that send you away singing. Thank you to the four of you for your help last night… and thanks for being people who are green….
For the past few years we have adopted a progressive approach to greening our physical space. It has been a week by week process of acknowledging the One of the fundamental principles of Hildegard’s worldview viriditas, which means the “greening power of God.” It has been, for the St Aidan’s community a way, during Advent, to take notice of our outward surroundings and embrace a worldview that God’s work is ever-greening. For Hildegard, all of creation is a sign of God’s loving. God is in an ever-greening relationship with all of creation.
It is fitting that we take time in Advent to focus on veriditas. At this time of year where the greens have retreated and the days are shortened, we perhaps need reminding that while it may be cold, and it may be dark, and things may lay dormant, God is at work ever-greening as only She can.
As we take notice of the subtle changes in our worship space each week, we might also embrace viriditas as a spiritual practice. That is to say, we can explore the broader aspects of what Hildegard envisioned, sung about, wrote about, and dreamed about. Ultimately we are at our best when we are spiritually alive, when our soul is freshened, fruitful, and moist. Anything that hinders that is counter-intuitive to the nature of what has been created. There are many ways that our soul may be crushed, our hearts broken or our spirit deflated. All of them work against the ever-greening Love that is God. As Hildegard wrote,
“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.”
We work week by week, day by day, or even moment by moment to see the ever-greening love of God about us. See it, embrace and nourish it we must. For there are plenty of voices and plenty of messages that would trap us in ariditas! That is, hold us in a dry, parched, barren, withered place where moisture is scant and greenery is no where to be found. For Hildgard, following The Way, meant always moving toward viriditas…. especially during times of ariditas. Moving toward the ever-greening love of God is especially important when feeling trapped in a dry and barren spiritual landscape. The ever-greening practices of our hearts require that we not allow our hope to be stolen by those who would interpret our world for us. Using our own voice, our own listening, our own light is all a testimony to the richness and the liberating power of an ever-greening love.
#MagnificatMary understood this as well. She sung of dulling the voices from high places that suppress the voices of others to the dusty valleys. She sung of amplifying the voices of those who are dusting themselves off and reaching for the fruit of love, hope, healing and new life. In the Advent season, may we strive to claim our own voice, use our own ears, and see and share our own light.
O most honoured Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”
– Hildegard von Bingen