Megan Hoyt has recently published, Hildegard’s Gift, a children’s book about Hildegard of Bingen (whose feast day is September 17th and is, of course, one of our dancing monks!) Here Megan offers a few reflections on the impact of Hildegard for her:
I first “met” St. Hildegard of Bingen when a friend shared her chants with me over a quiet cup of tea, during a lull in our conversation. I was a lover of all things Medieval, and my friend knew this about me. She must have known the lilting tones and haunting melody would catch me off guard. I held my breath for a moment. I tend to get emotionally involved with the composers I study, having been raised by symphony musicians and on a steady diet of classical music. But this was different. Hildegard’s melodies were sad and humble and maybe even a little vulnerable. Who was this nun and mystic named Hildegard? I had to know.
My search began online and moved to books, music cds and youtube videos. It was a somewhat sacred quest. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to write about this saintly woman who connected with God so easily. Some seemed to believe she wasn’t really “in tune” with God, that she was only reacting to migraines and seizures. Was she epileptic or did she really see visions from God? I don’t have a clear answer on that, but when we dig in and research her life and body of work it seems clear that whatever the reason, she was tuned in spiritually in ways I had not yet experienced in my own life, in ways I WANTED to experience.
Hildegard believed God spoke to her directly, through visions and voices. And He spoke to her regularly, sharing His view of the world around her — prompting her to stand against a multitude of wrongs being committed by popes and priests, to create beautiful images and music, to come up with complex herbal remedies for ailments that previously had no cure. What a truly remarkable woman. When I think of her, I’m drawn to this verse:
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Hildegard of Bingen believed wholeheartedly in this vision of God as an all-consuming fire, whether it was because of her childhood spent in isolation as an anchoress in Germany or the hours upon hours she spent in prayer. She was definitely consumed by God as one is fully and completely immersed in the Holy Spirit and utterly overwhelmed by Spirit itself. May we all endeavor to see Christ as she did, as the lover of our souls, the Creator of the Universe, the fulfillment of all that is worthwhile in life.
Megan Hoyt is the author of Hildegard’s Gift, a vibrant, colorful picture book for children of all ages, available now through Paraclete Press.