The Gifts of Greenness

Rain has been drizzling and dousing and pouring in fits and starts these last several days here in Seattle. As winter draws nearer I witness the subtle slow waves of velvety moss that spread up tree trunks and across sidewalks. I heard a saying on NPR, that in the Northwest if moss isn’t growing on your North side, you are moving too fast. I shared this once with the driver of an airport shuttle as we made our way through blankets of thick rain. “You can tell an outsider made that up,” he responded, “because around here moss grows on all sides.”

While I was in graduate school I became enamored with Hildegard of Bingen, the 12th century Benedictine abbess who was artist, visionary, musician, theologian, preacher, spiritual director, and healer. She coined the term viriditas which refers to the “greening power” of God at work in every moment and place, including our souls. Here in the Northwest, I know many struggle with the short, dark, and wet days, but I have grown to love them because of the presence of viriditas in her most pronounced form. Moss wraps itself around anything that stands still and for me becomes a sign of hope made green.

With the gifts of rest and play yesterday for Sabbath, I am feeling my own soul growing greener again.  Where do you want to invite the power of viriditas into your own life?  Where are the signs of greenness already flourishing?

-Christine Valters Paintner

(photo above taken at Saltspring Island in British Columbia last January on retreat where I will be returning next month)

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