1BBEB93A-C4B6-B387-BBC9-AF1B752C6C5E 1.02.28

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hildegard of Bingen, Visionary 17 Sept

Hildegard of Bingen, Visionary 17 September 1179
"Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God."

Hildegard of Bingen has been called by her admirers "one of the most important figures in the history of the Middle Ages," and "the greatest woman of her time." Her time was the 1100's (she was born in 1098), the century of Eleanor of Aquitaine, of Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux, of the rise of the great universities and the building of Chartres cathedral. She was the daughter of a knight, and when she was eight years old she went to the Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode to be educated. The monastery was in the Celtic tradition, and housed both men and women (in separate quarters). When Hildegard was eighteen, she became a nun. Twenty years later, she was made the head of the female community at the monastery. Within the next four years, she had a series of visions, and devoted the ten years from 1140 to 1150 to writing them down, describing them (this included drawing pictures of what she had seen), and commenting on their interpretation and significance. During this period, Pope Eugenius III sent a commission to inquire into her work. The commission found her teaching orthodox and her insights authentic, and reported so to the Pope, who sent her a letter of approval. (He was probably encouraged to do so by his friend and former teacher, Bernard of Clairvaux.) She wrote back urging the Pope to work harder for reform of the Church.

The community of nuns at Mount St. Disibode was growing rapidly, and they did not have adequate room. Hildegard accordingly moved her nuns to a location near Bingen, and founded a monastery for them completely independent of the double monastery they had left. She oversaw its construction, which included such features (not routine in her day) as water pumped in through pipes. The abbot they had left opposed their departure, and the resulting tensions took a long time to heal.

Hildegard travelled throughout southern Germany and into Switzerland and as far as Paris, preaching. Her sermons deeply moved the hearers, and she was asked to provide written copies. In the last year of her life, she was briefly in trouble because she provided Christian burial for a young man who had been excommunicated. Her defense was that he had repented on his deathbed, and received the sacraments. Her convent was subjected to an interdict, but she protested eloquently, and the interdict was revoked. She died on 17 September 1179. Her surviving works include more than a hundred letters to emperors and popes, bishops, nuns, and nobility. (Many persons of all classes wrote to her, asking for advice, and one biographer calls her "the Dear Abby of the twelfth century.") She wrote 72 songs including a play set to music. Musical notation had only shortly before developed to the point where her music was recorded in a way that we can read today. Accordingly, some of her work is now available on compact disk, and presumably sounds the way she intended. My former room-mate, a non-Christian and a professional musician, is an enthusiastic admirer of her work and considers her a musical genius. Certainly her compositional style is like nothing else we have from the twelfth century. The play set to music is called the Ordo Virtutum and show us a human soul who listens to the Virtues, turns aside to follow the Devil, and finally returns to the Virtues, having found that following the Devil does not make one happy.

She left us about seventy poems and nine books. Two of them are books of medical and pharmaceutical advice, dealing with the workings of the human body and the properties of various herbs. (These books are based on her observations and those of others, not on her visions.) I am told that some modern researchers are now checking her statements in the hope of finding some medicinal properties of some plant that has been overlooked till now by modern medicine. She also wrote a commentary on the Gospels and another on the Athanasian Creed. Much of her work has recently been translated into English, part in series like Classics of Western Spirituality, and part in other collections or separately. If your university library or bookstore cannot help you, try a Christian bookstore. If they do not have it, try a trendy (feminist, New Age, ecology) bookstore.
But her major works are three books on theology: Scivias ("Know the paths!"), Liber Vitae Meritorum (on ethics), and De Operatione Dei. They deal (or at least the first and third do) with the material of her visions. The visions, as she describes them, are often enigmatic but deeply moving, and many who have studied them believe that they have learned something from the visions that is not easily put into words. On the other hand, we have the recent best-seller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, by Oliver Sacks, Professor of Clinical Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and author of Migraine and various other books. Professor Sacks is concerned with the relation of the brain to the mind, and ways in which the phsical state of the nervous system can affect our ways of perceiving reality. He views the pictures in Hildegard's books of what she saw in her visions, and says, "The style of the pictures is a clear indication that the seer suffered regularly from migraine attacks. Migraine sufferers tend to see things in this manner." And indeed, it is true that Hildegard suffered throughout her life from painful attacks of what may have been migraine. Professor Sacks hastens to add that this has nothing to do with whether her visions are authentic insights into the nature of God and His relation to the Universe.
Hildegard has undergone a remarkable rise in popularity in the last thirty years, since many readers have found in her visions, or read into them, themes that seem to speak to many modern concerns. 

For example:
Although she would have rejected much of the rhetoric of women's liberation, she never hesitated to say what she thought needed to be said, or to do what she thought needed to be done, simply because she was a woman. When Pope or Emperor needed a rebuke, she rebuked them.
Her writings bring science, art, and religion together. She is deeply involved in all three, and looks to each for insights that will enrich her understanding of the others.
Her use of parable and metaphor, of symbols, visual imagery, and non-verbal means to communicate makes her work reach out to many who are totally deaf to more standard approaches. In particular, non-Western peoples are often accustomed to expressing their views of the world in visionary language, and find that Hildegard's use of similar language to express a Christian view of reality produces instant rapport, if not necessarily instant agreement.
Hildegard wrote and spoke extensively about social justice, about freeing the downtrodden, about the duty of seeing to it that every human being, made in the image of God, has the opportunity to develop and use the talents that God has given him, and to realize his God-given potential. This strikes a chord today.

Hildegard wrote explicitly about the natural world as God's creation, charged through and through with His beauty and His energy; entrusted to our care, to be used by us for our benefit, but not to be mangled or destroyed.
written by James Kiefer
O God, by whose grace your servant Hildegard, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Been playing around again

Hi everyone

I've been playing around again.  I've got it figured out I think.

I'll start adding some stitchy stuff soon.  I have to get a handle on my camera and how to best upload pics.

Can't wait to join the blog crowd.


Ninian of Galloway, Bishop, Missionary to Scotland

(from the Anglican Calendar)

Ninian is also called Nynia, Ninias, Rigna, Trignan, Ninnidh, Ringan, Ninus, or Dinan. He was a Celt, born in southern Scotland in about 360, and is regarded as the first major preacher of the Gospel to the people living in Britain north of the Wall--that is, living outside the territory that had been under Roman rule. He is said to have studied in Rome (note that he is contemporary with Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine), but was chiefly influenced by his friendship with Martin of Tours, with whom he spent some considerable time when he was returning from Italy to Britain. It is probable that he named his headquarters in Galloway after Martin's foundation in Gall. Martin had a monastery known as LOCO TEIAC, a Latinized form of the Celtic LEUG TIGIAC. LEUG means "white, shining," and TIG means "house" (a shanty, or SHAN-TIG, is an old house). The suffix -AC means "little." Thus, Martin's monastery had a name which in Celtic means "little white house." At about the time of Martin's death in 397, Ninian built a church at Galloway, in southwest Scotland. It was built of stone and plastered white, an unusual construction in a land where almost all buildings were wood. He called it Candida Casa (White House) or Whithorn, presumably after Martin's foundation at Tours. Archaeologists have excavated and partially restored his church in this century. From his base at Galloway, Ninian preached throughout southern Scotland, south of the Grampian Mountains, and conducted preaching missions among the Picts of Scotland, as far north as the Moray Firth, He also preached in the Solway Plains and the Lake District of England. Like Patrick (a generation later) and Columba (a century and a half later), he was a principal agent in preserving the tradition of the old Romano-British Church and forming the character of Celtic Christianity. Some historians think that the number and extent of his conversions has been exaggerated, but throughout southern Scotland there are many and widespread churches that bear his name, and have traditionally been assumed to be congregations originally founded by him.

Our information about him comes chiefly from Bede's History (Book 3, chapter 4), an anonymous eighth century account, and a 12th century account by Aelred. Aelred is writing 700 years after the event, and is for that reason rejected as untrustworthy by many critics. However, he claims to rely on an earlier account, "written by a barbarian." This suggests that he may have had an authentic record by a member of Ninian's community in Galloway.

See The Christian Island, by Beram Saklatvala (J M Dent, London, 1969), plus standard references.

written by James Kiefer


O God, who by the preaching of your blessed servant and bishop Ninian caused the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

some thoughts on indian summer

Around here this is when autumn has made her appearence and there is a period of sunny, warm weather in late October or early November.  Depending on the year it could be a bit earlier, but never later because it comes before the first snow fall.

Where did this term come from.  Myself and a few others were wondering so I did a Google search.

I have always loved looking up the etymology of words and sayings.  Sometime I agree and sometime I don't.

1.  Derived from the timing of Summer in India to correlate with good weather in Autumn in the western world.

2.  In the late 18th centruy Americas was used to possible indicate when the Native American raids on the European colonies had ended in autumn and there was a brief extension of summer like weather.

3.  Traditional the time in which Native American and early Europeans harvested their crops of squash and corn.

4.  The Eurpoean settlers saw the Native Americans as deceitful and treascherous and could mean 'false summer'.

Barring the raids, I see can see the term being used to give name when to do a harvest.  That was a common practise and I found different terms used throughout the world.

In rural Europe this time is called Saint Martin's Summer because it was seen to end on St Martin's Day 11 November.
In Italy Estate de San Martino
In Spain Veranillo de San Miguel or Veranillo de San Martin
In Galicia, northern Spain Veranino de San Martino
In Portugore Magnus Ustus which actually translate as Big Fire and this is where we see the shared Celtic origins of bonfires, roasted chestnuts and wine.

In Bulgaria циганско лято, tsigansko lyato, Gypsy Summer
In Sweden brittsommar, for Birgitta's name day in the Swedish calendar on 7 October
In Germany and Austria Altweibersommer  Old Ladies Summer which goes back to the Norse folklore and medieval witches.

I can also how the term Indian Summer could become derogtary like the term Indian giver.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What do you remember for 9-11

I know I'll never forget.  Setting here remembering, saying some prayers, I have tears in my eyes and I'm sad.

I had worked the night before and had gotten off at 4am.  The drive home was an hour.  I had decided to go to bed right way so I could go in early to do some shopping.  After the coming night I had 3 days off and didn't want to go back to the city.

About noon the alarm went off.  No music.  There's an open mike.  I think how dumb of someone not turning the correct button or whatever they do.  A couple of minutes go by, I can't make out what is being said.  Then I hear "All planes that are in the air are being told to land in Canada."

What?  This must be a mistake.  Its a joke.  Then they go on telling how some flight have been in the air for awhile and I forget the rest.  I'm racing out the bedroom to the living room to turn on the TV.  Someone finally had set off a nuclear bomb was my thought.  I'm trying to reach family as the TV comes on and they are showing the planes and the towers.  I think I'm watching a movie, I change the channel and its the same thing.  It doesn't want to set in.  I keep playing over in my mind that planes are landing in Canada.

After getting in touch with family, I watch TV until I get another call and its work.  At the time I worked at the Winchester Medical Center's ER as a secretary. More like a gopher for the doctors, but a good job.  They wanted us in.  With the plane going into the Pentagon they didn't know what to expect.  Winchester, Va is about 2 hours from DC and about 90 mins from Dulles International Airport.  They had put us on alert.

Before leaving for work I had been trying to get a hold of a friend of mine.  At the time he worked for the World Bank in downtown DC.  Before the lines went completely down, I had word that he was fine and had gotten home.  But I actually think that was the next day when I got word.

It was a long night.  No patients.  No one looking for drugs, no one looking for an excuse off work.  No accidents, no one sick.  It was just us employees watching the TV.  When they let us go home, it was eerie, no one on the road.

Then later, while the planes were still grounded, the silence.  The quiet of the sky.

Prayers are still needed.

I won't watch any of the specials.  Maybe in years to come I will.

What are your memories?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

9 Sept 2009 -- 09/09/09

Today is the 252 day of the year.  when added together those three numbers equal ....9.

This is the last time there will be single digits in the month, day and year for the next 1001 years.

To celebrate this once in a lifetime occurrence, try these nine ideas on your own, or share them with friend and family.

1.  Make 9 home-cooked meals this month.

2.  Start a journal, on paper or electronically, and make today the first entry.  Promise to write in it at least 9 times.

3.  Smile at 9 people today.

4.  Buy something with '9' in it.

5.  Write 9 letters or cards to friends and family.

6.  Try to lose or gain 9 pounds.

7.  Set up 9 dates ahead of time with your spouse or partner and keep them.

8.  Pick 9 books you've always wanted to read and make time to read them.

9.  Do 9 things for yourself you haven't let yourself do for a long time.  Get a manicure, go to a silly movie, go swing at a park, slide down a slid--anything you haven't made time for.

from overstock.com