And then we met Hildegard.
Hildegard of Bingen was a 12th century German polymath – an Abbess, an herbalist, a physician, an artist and musician, a blunt critic of religious leaders who grew accustomed to her scorn when she deemed their actions contrary to the gospel, a preacher, writer and mystic. She was, in a phrase, a spiritual force of nature.
I rather think she would smile at the label.
Central in her writings was a special attention to the presence and activity of the Spirit in the world/nature. The Latin word she frequently used to refer to a central element in her thinking and approach to life was “viriditas” - often translated as “greening”. As one contemporary disciple of Hildegard noted, “Viriditas was a key concept that expressed and connected the bounty of God, the fertility of nature, and especially the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
And with that, the seed sown in Italy sprouted in Germany, and blossomed in Iowa. A friend connected us with a Belgian artist living only a few miles from us – significantly named “Hilde” – who accepted the commission for an outdoor sculpture that would integrate these two inspirations. Click here to see more of her amazing work.
Early in the process, we sent an email to her that shared our thoughts about this intriguing Latin word, “Viriditas: Holiness, health, vitality, nature and fertility - all wrapped up into one lovely Latin word; all central to a European mystic whose name reminded us of you. Delightful. It could name the piece.”And so it has. And Viriditas came home to assume its place today on the farmstead, framed by the garden, the chicken yard and the tall grass prairie. She’s magnificent. With wings inspired by oak leaves and a gentle spiral evoking upward movement, the corten steel piece subtly incorporates the taproot that names our farmstead, on a base that hints at the labyrinth that highlights our acreage’s western edge. The color of the bare metal will evolve with the elements and time, much like the farmstead itself. And already we gather around it, or pause as we pass; acknowledging in fresh ways that we are accompanied here in our daily work by winds exhaled from lungs holier and more instrumental than our own; evocative breezes stirring life in freshly incarnational expressions, at once grounding and elevating, centering and expanding…
…into ever-new life.
I somehow think that Hildegard is smiling at Hilde's work - singing, even - while Francis kneels and reaches toward it to receive, yet again, the Spirit that is the very creative impulse of God.
Here. Now. In this very place.