Learning from Hildegard

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Yet again, immediately after Easter, I am drawn the Spiritual mystics that have gone before me, people who have wrestled to find God in their own context, and again I am drawn to Hildegard of Bingen, a woman who was ahead of her time. Although the exact date of her birth is unknown, it is approx. 1098 and she died 1179 She was born in the middle ages, when men ruled areas of finance, politics, and the church. She broke new grounds for women, as she wrote theological, botanical, and medical books, as well as letters, music and panting.

She was visionary, who at the age of three believed that God communicated visions to her. Being a woman, many dismissed it as nonsense, however she rose to become an influential person, and many requests an audience with her, in her role as abbess to ask for advice on many issues .

Why am I returning to this woman? What would she make of the world we inhabit?

Well she believed that we experience God through our senses. . sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, and as we continue our journey as Easter people of faith, we must be aware of the diversity of God’s world; the richness in creation and the variety of life that it sustains alongside the polarity of wealth and poor as the rich seem to be getting the richer and the poor seem to be squeezed harder with more financial restraints.

I have no mystical answers to the chaotic world we live in, apart from the knowledge that Hildegard addressed issues of her time, in her own way…. and so should we. We need to be assured that God is with us just as God was with Hildegard,, and that we like her will utter words which would change hearts.

Just as a mirror, which reflects all things, is set in its own container,

so too the rational soul is placed in the fragile container of the body.

In this way, the body is governed in its earthly life by the soul,

and the soul contemplates heavenly things through faith.

HILDEGARD OF BINDEN, letter to the Monk Guibert, 1175

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Epiphany.. Wisdom v Common Sense

There is a story in Thailand,… a king gave a poor man a gift of a white elephants, the elephants could not be disposed of , they could not work and were very expensive to keep . The recipient of the elephant and everyone in the village knew that the gift was dangerous and useless. Yet the white elephant in that country symbolized regal power strength. It was given as a mark of respect.

Our travellers from the East are wise men, for sure; everyone agrees on that. They might even be rich men, or kings, if the legends are true. But that’s not how the text introduces them, is it?—”rich men from the East.” No, it is very clear: “In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we have observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’”

Let us cut straight to the point. Being wise is not the same as having common sense. To search for the Christ is the epitome of wisdom. To underestimate King Herod is the epitome of stupid.

The first people to hear this story would have caught the supreme irony at work in the telling, because they would have remembered what it was like, when King Herod was on the throne. Herod was one of the cruellest dictators ever to pass through the Middle East, a man so paranoid about succession that he had his own sons executed, to keep them from inheriting his throne.Being wise is not the same as having common sense. You can be wonderfully clever at astrophysics and yet not have an ounce of being street smart.

The truth is that earnest seekers only ever have part of the truth. The pursuit of wisdom, the search for the Christ, is a lifelong journey. It unfolds over time and with a lot of help. We will, as the “wise men” demonstrate, make a lot of mistakes—really stupid ones.

May God send us the dreams, the spirit, the wise ones to guide our journeys.

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God of wisdom ,

Christ our morning star that never sets

Help us to wise people

and to follow you.

Amen