Finally we have seen rain on the dry and water-barren lands of central and northern California. Winter, normally a time of greening, looked like it was never coming-round-the-bend. But the past few weeks have changed the course a slight little bit towards the power of the “greening” of the earth. Water drops like diamonds have been jewelling the grasses and plants that have sprung to life.
The images I present to you from the first wet days of February are reminiscent of words and visions from the 12th century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine”, produced major works of theology and visionary writings.
Women were not accorded respect, but she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She understood and documented the medicinal powers of nature for healing. She wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent where her musical plays were performed.
For Hildegard the ultimate human sin was/is ecological – against the earth, the air, the water. She believed that for injuring creations’ interdependent balance we are likely to destroy the earth and all humanity with her. In one of her meditations she wrote:The earth is at the same time mother she is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human. She is the mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all. The earth of humankind contains all moistness all verdancy, all germinating power. It is in so many ways fruitful. All creation comes from it, Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnational divine.
“Hildegard represents the big link between Christian spirituality and pre-patriarchal spiritualities.” says Matthew Fox. I contend that she is also the link between present-day patriarchal religious/political systems and the shift back/forward to post-patriarchalism that re-greens the future and redeems us all! And like jewels each water drop is a precious sign of hope and healing.
Raindrops and Calla Lilies at Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park.