"The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.” Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess, poet, composer, botanist and mystic. She had an extraordinarily wide view of the world and was interested in everything from music to philosophy to cooking grains. She lived in the early part of the 12th century, yet her writings and visions are still studied today. She was named a Doctor of the Church in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
One of the ideas Hildegard is known for is that of viriditas - the greening power of God. I like to call it the "slow greening," because, with just a few exceptions, that is how God's greening power works and is perceived in our lives. Although we are used to everything being at the click of a button these days, the truth is that growth takes place through a process, not an instant. Viriditas means greeness, vitality, creativity, growth. Hildegard's meaning especially refers to the greening power of God within us, the divine spark that sets everything into motion and resurrection. We can remind ourselves that a baby first becomes a toddler, then a young child before more growth occurs and the child becomes an adult. It would seem truly bizarre for us to see a child one day become a 25 year old the next! We would think there is something amiss! Yet, so often we assume our interior life is different from the rest of creation. We feel that praying once or twice is enough, like fine tuning our soul is like turning on the tv. That's like watering a field once a twice, and then wondering why nothing grows.
Other writers, such as St. Gregory the Great, have also referred to viriditas in their writings, in particular when speaking about spirtual health. Since Lent begins in early March this year, why not make it a journey into veriditas - leaning into the slow greening of God that creates health within us? Along the way, we'll look at a few significant people who have lived the life of "slow greening," people like St. Patrick and St. Joseph, for example, and modern day artists like Marjolein Bastin. So take a deep breath and settle in. This is not going to be quick!