Follow-Up to WATERmeditation with Adrienne Corti
“Hildegard of Bingen – Veriditas: Engaging in the Living Force of Creation”
Monday, May 8, 2023, 7:30 PM EDT
The video of this session can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=376USFMHHnM.
WATER thanks Adrienne Corti for a wonderful session on Hildegard that set us all about the greening of our own lives.
Adrienne Corti, a Canadian, began her career as a teacher of French and Italian at both the elementary and high school levels. She was a Religion Consultant in the Catholic school system in Ontario participating on writing teams for the revision of Religion programs for the Canadian Bishops and was involved as a teacher and then Principal of Ministry of Education courses for Teacher certification in Religious Education.
After taking early retirement, Adrienne, along with her friend Rita Mary, were spiritual directors at a small retreat house for 10 years working with people of various religious backgrounds. She was on a local committee that brought 2 refugee families to the area from The Congo and Iraq. This was followed by 12 years working as a Tour Manager with Senior Tours Canada which, though very challenging, also was a broadening of cultures, languages, and friendships.
Following are her notes for the marvelous presentation: “Hildegard of Bingen – Veriditas: Engaging in the Living Force of Creation.”
May is my favorite month of the year for several reasons: it’s my birthday month, Mother’s Day is celebrated this month, and it is the month of blossoms and greening. When I think of spring, new life, and growth I often think of Hildegard of Bingen. One thought of hers that stands out the most for me in all her writings, especially at this time of year, is that the greatest sin in life is the sin of drying up. When aridity is watered by grace in our lives we become moist and alive with greenness. Hildegard was deeply immersed in Feminine Wisdom which embraces the sacredness of the earth and of the body. Through her rich teachings on “Veriditas” or “greenness” she honors Sapientia, as Lady Wisdom is known. For her, the flowing of the sap in springtime was an important metaphor of the spiritual life signifying grace and the presence of Spirit.
As I age into the winter of my life I need reminders that the dryness and apparent death of winter is always followed by the growth, greening, wetness, and new life that spring brings forth. It is the cycle of our life on earth and, even more so, the circle of life which continues after death in ways we can only imagine.
When we delve into Hildegard’s life, we find a woman steeped in the richness of many fields including music, medicine, herbology, theology, politics, and art. She was a preacher, a scientist, a composer, and Abbess of a Benedictine Monastery. All of this nurtured her spirituality which was based on nature, the cosmos, and love of all creatures. Because she was a powerful woman, a prophet, a visionary, her path to being declared a Saint and Doctor of the Church was strewn with difficulties especially when challenged by the clergy and hierarchy. When we look at the 12th Century in which she lived, with the tension between tradition and reform, in some ways it does not look too different from our own struggles with Church hierarchy.
What I think Hildegard does for us is illuminate the darkness through an openness to creativity and healing with a cosmic vision. This she did through her own illness which she attributed to her loss of voice, her inability, for several reasons, to put into words the visions and mystical experiences she was given. Once she began to speak openly of her mystical experiences, she began to heal and became prolific describing them in poetry, art, music and whatever medium she could tap into to inspire and heal others.
What I would like us to meditate on this evening is the power of creativity that Hildegard embodied. With Mother’s Day approaching, I invite you to reflect on experiences you have had of mothering and being mothered. It is the feminine aspect that is in all of us whether male or female. It is the creative driving force and energy of love. Every one of us began life in the darkness of the womb from the encounter of a seed and an ovum, emerging into the light after a long period of gestation. How like Mother Earth is that? Hildegard reminds us in her words, “ 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.”
To introduce our 22 minutes of silence, I would like to lead us into a relaxation and deep breathing with Hildegard’s music in the background.”
The poem which Adrienne shared:
WomanSpirit of God
0 Holy WomanSpirit,
from You the clouds have their flowing,
the air its movement,
the stones their moisture,
the waters spurting forth in streams,
and the earth its glorious green verdure.
My God reveals Herself in all Her beauty
in the mirror of creation,
She flames above the fields to signify the beauty of the earth,
the beautiful earthen matter from which we are all made.
She flames on the waters of the world,
suffusing the whole waterfed world,
as life suffuses my body.
She burns in the sun and the moon
to show forth our brightness of intellect
and strength of spirit.
She gleams in the stars to show us
the words we may use for praise.
a feather floating on the breath of God,
pray that the Spirit of God
may cleanse me from malice
that drags me down on earth,
and win me the friendship of God.
Inspired by Hildegard of Bingen, Mary T. Malone, Praying with Women Mystics, Ireland: Columba Press, 2006, p. 24.
Among the many comments in the discussion, in addition to deep appreciation for the strong prompt for meditation, were reflections on the terms “feather on the breath of God” and “the sin of drying up.” These images stayed with us. Likewise, Adrienne’s sense of Hildegard being on her “healing team” related to an insight from a previous meditation by Cynthia Tootle who deemed us all healers. The words keep reverberating all week—a rich trove of insight from Hildegard and Adrienne. We receive it with gratitude.
Upcoming WATER Programs
The next WATERtalk will be on Wednesday, June 7, 2023 at 1 PM EDT on the book Walking through the Valley: Womanist Explorations in the Spirit of Katie Geneva Cannon. The Editors, Emilie M. Townes, Stacey Floyd-Thomas, Alison P. Gise Johnson, and Angela D. Sims will lead the session with an overview of the volume followed by discussion.
The next WATERmeditation will be on Monday, June 12, 2023 at 7:30 PM EDT with WATER staff Patrice Rupp. Her topic will be “A Bold Journey to Self-Love.”
The next WATERritual will be on Tuesday, June 20 at 7:30 PM EDT with Diann L. Neu and the WATER Community. We will celebrate the “Summer Solstice.”