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A refreshing lockdown walk with Hildegard

Posted by Simon Parke, 13 January 2021, 4.55pm

In these lockdown times, I am allowed to take a walk with one person from another household.

And so, with due social distancing, and wary of police, I take a walk with Hildegard of Bingen, nine centuries outside my support bubble; though still somehow part of it. (It’s OK - ghosts are quite legal in support bubbles.)

And I discover along the way that one of her favourite words is veriditas – greenness. She comes back to it a few times before we break for a well-earned coffee and doughnuts.

Greenness, for Hildegard, is the principle of life, whether on earth or in heaven; it is the life which moves freely in-between, easing us away from a retarded dualism which separates the two.

The spirit of life is one, she says; it is just the manifestations which vary.

So greenness is the fertility of nature; it is the celestial sunlight in a daffodil; it is the divine magic of the hoar frost; it is the love and courage in humanity.

It is one spirit, one life.

So, as I walk with Hildegard - and she maintains a good pace despite her old sandals and flapping nun’s habit - the outer world around me becomes a continuum with my inner world - one life.

I’ve always been told walking is good for my mental health; but I have to say, I’ve never found it quite so refreshing as today.

In a lockdown season of restraints and separation, I am caught up in a story of life, which wonderfully includes me.

‘We can walk and talk, by all means,’ says Hildegard, as we reach the top of the hill. ‘But we can also walk and see. Sometimes that’s even better.’

I think she’s referring to the greenness, which sometimes I miss…

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