Her garden held and nurtured her soul, because she always loved what was earthly. She called the Earth the Mother which holds the seeds for all things. In one of her poems she called God's people "Good People, most royal greening verdency, rooted in the sun you shine with radiant light." She coined the term "veriditis," or "greening power," connecting it closely with creativity. For Hildegard, God is the very greenness of creative life and imbues all creation with constant, joyful growth: "The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdent greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature."
And, filled with God, create she did. St. Hildegarde (1098 - 1179), also called the Sibyl of the Rhine, was a mystic who, on orders from her abbott, composed several works describing the visions she'd had from an early age. She was a proficient musician and also a composer of liturgical works which used the Gregorian chant form in a unique way (you can hear her compositions on youtube.) She wrote volumes on medicine and science, demonstrating a wholistic approach to healing by emphasizing the connections between psychological and spiritual illness and their physical repercussions, and influencing today's holistic healers.
Although she lived in a monastery, she lived a very high-profile life for a medieval woman. Crowds from throughout Germany and Gaul flocked to hear her speak and and ask for her advice. She corresponded with people from all walks of life, including Popes and statesmen. She was sent on four preaching tours throughout Germany and spoke to both clergy and laity, daring to denounce clerical corruption and demand reform.
She always saw the interconnection between humans and the earth and all earthly creatures, realizing that evil in the human sphere ultimately affects all planetary life. In one striking, prophetic statement which easily describes today's ecological crisis, she said "Now in the people that are meant to be green, there is no more life of any kind. There is only shriveled barrenness. The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings-on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanness of the people. The earth should not be injured. The earth should not be destroyed."
And she ominously predicted "All of creation God gives to humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God's justice permits creation to punish humanity."
Hildegard taught us to work WITH Nature, "for without it we cannot survive." She is a powerful role model for today's environmentalists who sound the alarm about our selfish short-sightedness and the ecological disasters that loom if we do not reform our policies.
As both Hildegard and Sesame Street's Kermit the Frog know, it's not easy being green, even if we are a royal people. Hildegard constantly battled doubt, illness, and feelings of inadequacy. It took her decades to finally confide in her spiritual director about her visions because she feared what people would think of her. There were many times in her life that she had to "stand up" to Church authorities in order to do what she considered to be morally right.
In 2012, recognizing her immense contributions to spirituality and theology, Pope Benedict XVI named Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church.
Ultimately Hildegard of Bingen was above all else a healer, who understood the deep connection between spirituality, the arts, and physical and psychological healing. Isn't that we're all called to be - healers? In as many ways as is possible? As creatively as possible? Can't we all see the beautiful "green potential" in every person, even if his/her spiritual or psychological or physical health is stunted or disabled? Can't we all see the beautiful "green potential" in every situation?
Because we are the royal children of God, united with Him in our souls, we all have incredible Greening Power with which to accomplish good. Remember, as Hildegard says, "God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God."