|Illumination from the Liber Scivias |
showing Hildegard receiving a vision
and dictating to her scribe and secretary
Today a closed portal has been opened ~ Hildegard of Bingen
“I am the fiery life of the essence of God; I am the flame above the beauty in the fields; I shine in the waters; I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars. And with the airy wind, I quicken all things vitally by an unseen, all-sustaining life. For the air is alive in the verdure and the flowers; the waters flow as if they lived; the sun too lives in its light; and when the moon wanes it is rekindled by the light of the sun, as if it lived anew: Even the stars glisten in their light as if alive.” ~ Hildegard of Bingen, translated by Barbara Newman, Sister of Wisdom (69-70).
This past January I was exploring walking mediations and stumbled upon a Lenten on-line retreat. The invitation had two key words for me: artists and Hildegard of Bingen. If people aren’t familiar with this woman, she lived during the 11th Century. She was a German Christian mystic, herbalist, feminist, writer, composer, philosopher, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Hildegard had moxie. She would be someone to aspire to be.
In 2012, Hildegard was given sainthood. Somehow this doesn’t sit right – after all these years? It feels like one of Christ’s stories about the rich giving from their richness, in this case it has to do with power. I feel like Hildegard’s nod to formalized sainthood is a way to divert my attention away from the real issues: the treatment of the American Catholic nuns, the child sexual abuse by clergy…
I see my Lenten journey this year becoming an extended Imbolic over the course of 40 days. My Lent is about opening doors that have been blocked by clutter. It's a time to not be distracted away from the real issues - the glittery stuff that comes from modern living. This is what blocks the entrances to my heart. Lent to me isn't about depriving. No, it is about being silent, observing and listening. It is a time to examine my heart to identify where I’m blocked and out of balance with love and humility. Lent is about opening the doors to closed portals. Airing things out and getting ready. Lent is hard mindful work.
One of my favorite books growing up was A Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. In the story we learn that the walled rose garden was locked following the death of Mary’s Aunt. The key was buried. Like many in the household, people are hurt, angry or grieving. Mary’s healing adventure begins when she sets her intent on finding the key. Her journey reveals the things that block her heart from love and friendship. Mary isn't afraid of hard work.
When I think of that garden door, I also think of the Hebrew letter found on the Empress Card. The door shaped card allows me to peer in. I find the pregnant Empress sitting in a golden wheat meadow with a lush forest behind her. People have told me this card represents both the subconscious and the creative. She holds the seeds for inventiveness. For me, anyone who has a creative imagination is able to magically enter another world - think about stepping over the threshold of a book. It’s a door that can provide you with fresh opportunities, a clean slate or perhaps allows you a new way on how to do something. Her kind face welcomes me in.
This Lent I plan on pulling away some boxes, push away the cobwebs so that I may insert the tarnished key into this forgotten door. It's the one that has been blocked with many excuses. She sits behind it calling me.