Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blessed Hildegard of Bingen (1098 to Sept, 17, 1179)

"God has composed the world out of its elements for the glory of his name. He has strengthened it with the winds, bound and illuminated it with the stars, and filled it with the other creatures." (Blessed Hildegard of Bingen)

Like many second grade girls, I went through a phase where I did not want to brush my hair. It was long and curly, so it had a dreadlock look to it after a few days. My mother tried everything, but I wouldn't even let her touch my hair.
The only solution was that once a week, a teenage girl named Lisa Harrison (our mother's were friends), who lived on the East Side of Providence, would drive to my house in Smithfield and brush the knots out of my hair and make it shiny and smooth.
I thought Lisa was the coolest person around. She was really pretty with long hair, had three sisters of her own, and was a hippie chick. I'd get to go to her house, too, and she'd play games with me, we'd do hair and makeup, and I got to go along when she went out with friends.
One day, when we were on a nature walk, we found a tiny bird on the sidewalk. Lisa explained that it was injured and since its mother wasn't going to come back, we would have to nurture it back to health.
So, she put it in her coat pocket and took it home. In the summer, Lisa got to sleep on her screened front porch and the baby bird would be able to get fresh air at the same time.
Unfortunately, it didn't live very long. But, it was one of my first encounters with a small creature and I remembered it today as I was reading a book called "Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen."
It was by Blessed Hildegard of Bingen who was born in Germany in 1098. She was ahead of her time in that she wrote about and studied things when few women did. Blessed Hildegard of Bingen was a poet and a liturgical songwriter, but what caught my eye was that she administered the curative powers of natural objects for healing and described the medicinal uses of plants, animals, and trees.
The commentary by Matthew Fox said, "Clearly if one is looking for a spiritual guide or a patron saint of the needed ecological awakening of our time, we could do no better in searching the pantheon of Western Christianity than to nominate Hildegard of Bingen."
Being that she was a Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, and leading visionary with a cult-like following, I'm surprised that she is waiting in "beatified limbo" to become a saint with Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, whose feast day happens to be today.
Had I even an ounce of Blessed Hildegard of Bingen's healing powers, I could have saved the small bird's life.
She died on Sept. 17, 1179 in Germany and her feast day is Sept. 17.

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