Ageing - A Series of Reflections

3 Ageing 3 Greening from within ImagePart 3. Greening from Within. The Rhineland mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, who lived into her eighties, developed her own understanding of this innate vitality. She uses a Latin word, viriditas to denote the greening of things from within. With her extensive scientific knowledge, she knows the readiness in plants to receive the sun and transform it into energy and life. She believes in an innate dynamism that is the soul and seal of everything. She sees an undeniable connection between the physical world and divine Presence.

Viriditas for Hildegard is ‘the greening power of God;’ it is in everything, in ourselves too. This greening is a breath of Spirit, a creative energy present in all living things. Greenness is a spiritual power to be cultivated in our bodies and in our souls. It resembles the ever-green quality of life promised by Psalm 92: a greenness, a freshness, a newness, a spirit that permeates everything. Hildegard warns: You understand so little of what is around you because you do not use what is within you.

Hildegard herself seemed to be brimming with life, despite her advanced years. She was a musician, a herbalist, a scientist, a poet and a spiritual guide.

Hildegard finds and echo for me in Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry especially in his mystical understanding of spring. Immersed in his landscape, as he cultivates the earth, he celebrates the awakening of the earth in words that are lyrical and visionary. His soul is alert to the power of ‘the rising sap’ which he attributes to the power of the Holy Spirit permeating. He rejoices at the passing of winter, whom he caricatures as ‘an old cranky spinster,’ the epitome of deadness. By way of contrast, he rejoices in ‘the green meadows’ where, for him, ‘the maiden of spring is ‘with child by the Holy Ghost.’

It’s one thing to be aware of our inner potential for growth and the possible springtime of soul still beckoning, and yet another to actively cultivate the greening power of body, mind, and soul, that may lie dormant within me. Above all, we must steer clear of ‘the old cranky spinster’. She could be a threat to our greening!  There is work to be done.

by Úna Agnew SSL