Allow me to reintroduce a mentor in my life, Hildegard of Bingen — doctor of the Church. The icon, created by Sister Paula Howard, OSB of St. Scholastica Monastery hangs on the wall above the prayer space in my bedroom here in the Monastery. The strength and courage of this Benedictine mystic of the 12th Century buoys up my spirit when I feel overwhelmed and ill at ease when expectations (my own and others) seem to come knocking at my door.
But most of all I think it is the simple fact that Hildegard was a woman of the Word – par excellence! She was a woman who allowed herself to be formed and transformed by the Word of God. Author Barbara Newman notes that in that transformation Hildegard experienced herself as the ‘Divine Harpist’s lyre,’ ‘a feather soaring in the Spirit’s wind’ and a ‘wind instrument being played by her God.’
It was almost as if she was ‘possessed,’ possessed by the Lord:
- Speaking words she did not want to speak;
- Going places she did not want to go;
- Doing things she felt she could not do;
- Confronting people that she would not wish to confront; and constantly
- Calling the world in which she lived to wholeness and holiness.
I want to live my life as Hildegard did; I want us to live our lives as Hildegard did. Our world is so in need of people of the Word willing to be transformed and daring to embrace the call to speak the truth in love.