Hildegard of Bingen will not be in Glasgow this week, speaking at COP26; she lived in the 12th century, an abbess in Germany.
But maybe you’ll hear echoes of her distinctive voice in the mouths of others. Like when she invited us to…
‘Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars. Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings. Now, think. What delight God gives to humankind with all these things…All nature is at the disposal of humankind. We are to work with it. For without it we cannot survive.’
She seems quite topical, for someone dead eight hundred years. And at the heart of her understanding was the spiritual concept of viriditas – or greenness – the cosmic life force infusing the natural order.
After all, if we do not have the earth, she asked, what do we have?
‘The earth is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human. She is mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all. The earth of human kind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power. It is in so many ways fruitful. All creation comes from it. Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God’s son.’
But it’s not all sweetness and light. There are definitely people she’d want a few words with right now. Some of them won’t be in Glasgow, some of them will.
Let’s be honest, Hildegard was not always polite; and sometimes she raged, for the stakes were high.
‘Now in the people that were meant to be green there is no more life of any kind. There is only shrivelled barrenness. The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings-on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples. The earth should not be injured! The earth must not be destroyed!’
But she’d not wish us to give up on on hope. Never.
‘Humankind, full of all creative possibilities, is God’s work. Humankind alone is called to assist God. Humankind is called to co-create. With nature’s help, humankind can set into creation all that is necessary and life-sustaining.’
Maybe Hildegard will be in Glasgow this week, after all.
The echoes are loud and chillingly (and excitingly) clear.