the greening life

Hildegard of Bingen used this word:
it means the greening life, the greening force.

darin and i took a Great Mystics of the World class (so rad) some years ago and Hildegard, a 12th century german Christian mystic and visionary, has remained with me.
especially her term, viriditas, which can translate to fecundity,
both personal and universal: it is greening, sprouting, life, growth.

(first paleta de coco of the season)

Hildegard wrote: "Men and women are the light green heart of the living fullness of nature. A direct connection exists between the heart of a person and all the elements of the cosmos."
She saw human beings as part of an organic and interrelated universe, like a great cosmic web, wherein everything we do affects everything and everyone else. Our own personal viriditas, our greening selves deep within, hold the power of creation and redemption. we see it in the world around us and we see it in others.

i have been thinking about this for the last week or two.

throughout all my activities during which sometimes my heart swells to a great richness i have always called Bliss. and other times that i feel the great weight of sadness that also fills the rivers and veins of the earth.
the opposite of viriditas is ariditas, a great aridity, a dryness and shriveling of spirit.
i choose the greening life.

for example, while finally mowing my rampant lawn (i use the word "lawn" loosely, stan calls it a sea of weeds which is much more appropriate)

up to my knees in thick jungly wet weeds that clogged the poor beast of a lawn mower every two minutes. pulling the cord so hard it frazzles and breaks, cranking her up, pushing forward with all my might, stepping back before the undergrowth chokes the blades, dancing backwards on my feet, pulling and pushing so taht my arms and legs and hips feel strong and i'm sore for days. it took four solid hours of sweaty work.

i felt good.
and i spared the poppies, which are rewarding me handsomely this week in their shocking abundant shaggy brilliant orange blooms.

opus autem verbi viriditas est
the work of the word is fecundity.

i think about hildegard in relation to those i love, to our language and the way it shapes understanding.
i thought about viriditas as i got ready for a little Cinco de Mayo party, surrounding myself with faces i love, food, and a green yard of weeds and insects and buzzing life. animals large and small...deer who come skipping through with their fuzzy antlers and a new baby fawn, my cats who spring and roll and sprint, birds who peck and pull and sing and build nests softened by our hairs.

even more than the blossoming, i love the greening time.

i see it everywhere, in the wild world and in people,
and it is like reading someone's heart on their face.
the light green heart of the living fullness of nature

in my billy-bobiss bounding -

in lovely and herbs and gifts -

(embroidered blouse from claire)

in fresh laundry, work, sunlight,

friends, love, the ever lengthening days, the greening force that "through the green fuse drives the flowers."

The soul is a like a wind that waves over herbs,
Is like the dew that moistens the grass
Is like the rain-soaked air that lets things grow.

In the same way you should radiate kindness
To all who are filled with longing.

Be a wind, helping those in need.
Be a dew, consoling the abandoned.
Be the rain-soaked air, giving heart to the weary,
Filling their hunger with instruction
By giving them your soul.

-Hildegard of Bingen, from Heilkunde

i hope that viriditas is blessing your lives and connecting you again and again to the world around us with a divine joy. looks like it's time for wordsworth next!


ashley said…
Oh man. Mowed lawn=volleyball this summer? Looks like a perfect place for a Cinco de Mayo garden-dinner party!

Miss you guys. One more week until freedom!
~Onreeone~ said…
I really loved this post--I have been out busting butt in our yard for the past few days and it feels sooooo good to be back out in mother natures beauty all around, Love all of your pictures too.
Amy Beatty said…
to live the life of heather..... puffy jumping cats, in a wonder world of green, chubby babe stretching out his little outfit, poppys delight, everyone dressed so darn cute at the most festive fun table ever, and that Popsicle - I'm really hoping you have one with my name on it :) See you soooooooon. xo p.s - jaroms been mowing ours :)
Verhext said…
This is so what I needed to read today. & so much beauty! Aahh need to move back to the country!
i love all the summery dresses and shirts! i'm ready for a beer and some sunshine, for sure. you look beautiful as always.
Kerry said…
scootch over! I wanna join in :)
Teeny said…
I didn't know there was a name for it, but I've always trusted that there is a connecting energy from us to the universe..and i agree, putting out the love makes everything better. I'm glad you shared this with us, and how super-cool is it that there is a paper called Great Mystics of the World!!! Heather, I so wish I could come over to one of your parties, this one in particular is so pretty and GREEN, and your yard is bursting with life! Your comment over on my blog made me smile so ridiculously wide! x
Angeliska said…
Thank you for this. These same thoughts have been buzzing around my brain, but I didn't have a word to hold them close - until now: viriditas! Of course it was Hildegarde, that wise woman who brings us to this green and sacred space. Magic. Oh, and bounding kitties! Ha! This made me so happy.
Milla said…
What a beautiful concept! It is exactly the the right word for this season for greening, for spring, for loving life. It is exactly the right word for you in my mind, for your ever-flowing joie de vivre, an energy that never seizes to amaze and delight or touch me.

I don't know much about the great mystics, but this reminds me little of a stanza from "Cold Mountain Poems" by Han Shan my (favorite zen mystic, I guess) so much so that I had to go look it up, you're always giving us these wondrous quotes to muse on and I feel like returning the favor:

"White clouds gather and billow.
Thin grass does for a mattress,
The blue sky makes a good quilt.
Happy with a stone under head
Let heaven and Earth go about their changes."

Thank you for bringing this idea into my mind, as well as your beautiful self and people and babies and parties and light and love! Happy May!
Norah said…
How great that your mentioning Hildegard von Bingen!
I heard of her last year for the first time, and I was intrigued. Now I am certainly going to read some more.
what a wonderful post~i had a great feeling of bliss this morning in our garden~harvesting radish, checking out all our other vegetables and berries, tinkling water, birds all felt so perfect and yes it made me feel so blissful :)
Cel said…
Oh, oh! I got all excited at mention of Wordsworth. I've been in love with that man's poetry since I was 15. A love of nature he had, and oh does it show. Your kitty pouncing about is adorable, and you look so pretty with a flower in your hair.

Just be careful mowing the lawn! Both one of my great-uncles, as well as a friend of the family have managed to mow their toes off. YES. Toes. Mowed. Off. And I far prefer you with toes attached!
Sailor Purrs said…
"Men and women are the light green heart of the living fullness of nature. A direct connection exists between the heart of a person and all the elements of the cosmos."

Loved that. This post made me happy. A tortie AND a jumping furbaby! Holy smokes. A life well-lived, Heather. xxoo
Missa said…
This is beautiful Heather. You know, I was sitting out on my front porch reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek the other day and kept coming to passages that I would read over and over because I didn't want to forget them and since I borrowed the book so I can't go marking it up. Then the sweet fabric covered journal you gave me popped into my head and I ran to get it. I've now taken to filling it with wonderful quoted passages:

"I saw the pale white circles roll up, roll up, like the world's turning, mute and perfect, and I saw the linear flashes, gleaming silver, like stars being born at random down a rolling scroll of time. Something broke and something opened. I filled up like a new wineskin. I breathed an air like light; I saw a light like water. I was the lip of a fountain the creek filled forever, I was ether, the leaf in the zephyr; I was flesh flake, feather, bone."

She was hanging out on a log watching the fish in the creek in the early evening sunlight, viriditas indeed! Thanks for the reminder to always be open to it :)

Apparently I am going to comment on your posts with quotes from whatever I happen to be reading from here on out ;)
Violet Folklore said…
I love you so much Heather.

When I think of Hildegard and viriditas, I always think of the word juicy. Of keeping my body and my spirit lush with green, verdant, juiciness. Thank you for this reminder, it seems the simplest thing to keep in mind when deciding what to eat or what tea to make or what to do that day.

You are a shining example of viriditas incarnate, your abundant love and joy overflow off the screen and in person. I feel incredibly blessed to know you.
Mikie said…
I love this. I want to steal the word and use it as much as I can. It's such a wonderful and accurate philosophy about humans - it's nice to give a positive spin on humanity vs nature, and this is just that. We are deeply connected with the greenness of living, but I don't think people let themselves out to realize it often enough. Thanks for giving me this piece of love at 5am.
these are the gatherings that are so enriching in one's life.
Kelsie Lynn said…
I hope I look like you when I'm a little bit older.


(not that you are old by any means haha. also- I'm so sorry I havent written back to the most beautiful letter you wrote. I am excited to write one back though. sending love your way!)

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