Expansion to Eibingen: A Poetic Journey

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From my writing desk, in Bingen, looking down the Rhine

 

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At Bingen, looking down the Rhine.

 

Expansion  to Eibingen  

Hildegard’s fingers tap restlessly 
on the refectory table. 
A new plan consumes her mind.
She moves to the podium
tucks back some loose strands of grey hair,
smoothes her veil
waits for her sisters to end supper.

She looks around.
A hundred sisters sit close in lines
share their own produce, 
freshly baked spelt bread,
honey, warmed grape wine. 
Hildegard breathes the aroma 
of the delicious broth, 
a recipe she has created 
for their health. 

Her mind holds a bold horizon
as the shape of Rupertsberg
grows its silhouette into the sky.
Its soul is their singing, her music.  

Hildegard inspires their hearts 
again with the bravery of St Ursula.
Her voice lowers,

My gaze is drawn across the Rhine
to the hamlets and people of Eibingen.
To a destroyed, abandoned convent.
How the local people beckon 
for our sisters.

Chatter buzzes, hums
like a hive of  Odelia’s bees.
Excitement palpable.

They imagine the old buildings 
brought to life again 
by their efforts.

On the first Sunday of Lent

Hildegard crosses the busy Rhine 
with thirty volunteer sisters 
to found a new convent 
amongst the people of Eibingen.

Sister Inez,  chosen the new Magistra. 
The monk Volmar comes to bless them.
Carpenters and stone masons
follow, enthusiastic about a new project.

On the return journey,
the smell of the river captivates Hildegard.
Undeterred by the rough swell,
she turns to Volmar,
We will visit twice a week
to encourage and support them

The buildings and spires of Ruperstsberg
from the  perspective of the Rhine
catch warm rays of a sun, deep in their hearts.

 

 

 

Schwester Raphaela (l) und Schwester Maria Magdalena von der Abtei St. Hildegard bei Rüdesheim (Rheingau) lesen am Mittwoch (30.09.2009) Spätburgundertrauben im Weinberg. Das Kloster bewirtschaft 6,5 Hektar Rebfläche, die zu 83 Prozent mit Riesling und zu 17 Prozent mit Spätburgunder bepflanzt ist. Die geschichtlichen Wurzeln des Klosterweingutes reichen bis ins Mittelalter zurück, in die Zeit der Gründeräbtissin dieses Klosters, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Schon damals betrieben die Schwestern Weinbau. Foto: Arne Dedert dpa/lhe +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Abtei St. Hildegard bei Rüdesheim (Rheingau) 2009  ( in 12th century situated at Eibingen

Touch of Silk: A Poetic Journey

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A happy photo of a Benedictine sister picking the grapes at  the  Eibingen Abbey.

This poem in Hildegard’s poetic journey  Touch of Silk is a transitional moment when she is inspired to showcase her sisters, singing, and her music, with her sisters dressing in beautiful gowns and flowers. It is a fact many of the women were quite wealthy and did bring jewellery maybe as part of a dowry,which they used to adorn themselves on special feast days. One must remember the 12 th century was a moment of Renaissance. Many frowned on her actions but it was still able to be done. In less then 100 years this would not be allowed.

 

Touch of Silk

There must have been a moment
when the idea arose.
Maybe it was the visions
when holy virtues spoke to her.

Maybe when all fifty sisters spent time
laughing together as they picked grapes,
for the winepress,
to make the sacramental altar wine,
and their sweet wine
to give warmth and strengthen blood,
as Hildegard says.

Maybe it was the day
the cousins Bertrude and Agnes
from a noble family joined her sisters,
proudly announcing they were seamstresses,
and donating reams of silk
for priestly albs and vestments.

Just maybe, the touch of the silk
gave Hildegard the idea.

Excitement drives her thoughts and words,
as she muses and then reflects out loud,
My sisters will wear silk gowns
as they sing our opera.
We will have it ready to perform
for the Bishop and his entourage
at the consecration of our new Church.

After Matins,
Hildegard gathers her sisters,
My sisters, God loves beauty.
For our concert we will dress,
as noble regal souls.
We will wear silk gowns that flow.
Gold wreaths and flower-circlets will crown us.
Let our hair loose under light translucent veils.
Our hair is our glory,
not a temptation to cut or hide.

Feverish as excited children
the sisters sing and sew
and with every practice
Hildegard watches their confidence grow.

Below is some special mementos I brought home from Bingen.
The wines I shared with Michael were special and my Hildegard candle energises me and the whole room while I write.

wine from Abbey

Hildegard’s wines from Eibingen

Disibodenberg: Poetic Journey

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Disibodenberg

High in the forest
it sprawls in the clouds.
The last mile steeply uphill.
Secluded.

A white butterfly dips and lifts.  
Hildegard’s gaze follows it up
catches the glint of the sun 
on the first stone wall. 

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Stoic buildings unfold
cloistered around a cobbled garth. 
Their Benedictine monastery.

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A monk in cinctured black robe
walks from the signposted infirmary. 
From beneath his blinkered cowl
he extends a welcome.

They dismount.  
Jutta falls on her knees in gratitude.
Hildegard overjoyed, breathes
the space of leafless beech and elms
in the skinniness of winter.

White tipped branches 
disguise trees of apple and pear.
Grapevines cling bare along stone walls.      
Frosty breath hangs in the air.
Her new home,
a frisson of gold in the cool noon sun.

Hammer and anvil ring, 
chink of chisel, thwack of axe,
clank of well come to a hush 
as a bell rings.  Then the shuffle 
and hiss of sandals, 
forty robed monks file to chapel.
Hearing a deep, rich chant
Hildegard looks up, 
hearkened to the sound. 

 

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Michael on The Way to the ruins of Disibodenberg where Hildegard lived for 38 years.

We walked with our guide on our pilgrimage to Disibodenberg
and imagined  Hildegard arriving as a young girl with her mentor Jutta,
and Hildegard hearing the music of the monks for the first time.

A Healing Colour: Poetic Journey

 

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1.Hildegard of Bingen with her  tablet to write while listening to the Divine Light  

 

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Colleen Keating at Disibodenberg where Hildegard lived for 38 years. (1112 -1150)

 

A Healing Colour

The none bell fills the air
for afternoon prayer. 
Richardis runs ahead with the sisters.
Hildegard in the new garden
adjacent to the monks gardens,
lingers a moment, cherishing the freedom.
Her basket filled.

She gazes around her 
sighs with joy.
Her smile can hardly be contained.
How she relishes these moments
to be lost in the loving, living Light.

Dappled, the sun textures 
trees and grasses,
with crunch of heaping leaves underfoot, 
a riot of russet and gold.

Affirmation comes on the breeze,
God hugs you.
You are encircled by the arms 
of the mystery of God.
Feast your eyes on the green
a thousands shades of green
a healing colour, let it heal you 
with its greening power rooted in the sun. 

This moment is my miracle
she murmurs,
as she hastens back to the convent.
Colleen Keating

 

 

VERIDITAS

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Photo of Veriditas  taken by Elizabeth Keating-Jones

I watched an aerial view of the destruction of forests and bush in Queensland recently, yes in 2018, we are still destroying forests here in Australia. I thought of the natural habitats, animals loosing their homes and the birds’ nests falling and the wildflowers and moss and tiny orchids now gone and the bare vulnerable earth left to be washed into erosion gullies and then the droughts, because the forest canopy has been destroyed and the earth no longer sustaining the people. And I thought how relevant are Hildegard of Bingen’s words from the 12th century across the ages to us today in this age of climate change and greed and with the loss of so much wilderness and natural habitats.

Hildegard has a word veriditas that was a touchstone of her spirituality. It is said to be coined from two words green and truth.
For Hildegard this was the greening power, the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality.
She talks of the “exquisite greening of grass and trees,   of earth’s lush greening.
She says all of creation and humanity is “showered with greening refreshment, the vitality to bear fruit”

Clearly for Hildegard creativity and greening power are intimately connected.
To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Hildegard saw the manifestation of the Creator in every flower, every stone. For her creation revealed the face of the creator.

Hildegard celebrates the sacred in nature.

I am the breeze that nurtures all things green,
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh
with joy of life

For all of us who know and love Hildegard of Bingen,
let us be aware, awake and alert to bring lush greenness to the shrivelled and dried and wilted, to our earth and all its people. It only needs one more to sway the scales to change the critical mass of people who say,  leave our trees, our rivers, our forests, our air alone. This tiny blue sphere we live on is our home . . protect and love it.

Hildegard says,  we are here to cultivate the earthly and thereby create the heavenly. We do this in all of our creating . . . music, art, poetry, sculpture, bush walking, hobbies and culture.
The tragedy of drying up and ignoring the greening power is that nothing is created.

Colleen and Michael at Disibodenberg at Hildegard’s Kapelle

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