The Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:14-17
For many, many years a dear friend of mine has prayed to God before she goes to bed, “I hope that today I have done what you created me for.”
My friend is an educator. Over the years she taught hundreds of children and adults, and then as president of a small college oversaw the teaching of countless more. She is also a catalyst, enticing everyone she knows to realize those dreams that are an expression of who they are in relation to God. Now that I’ve heard her prayer, I can see how she chose what to take on in her own life. No outside parties had the ultimate influence; it was between her and her Creator alone. And she chose what God had made her, specifically, to do.
In the prolific abundance of her projects she reminds me of Hildegard. Hildegard of Bingen shows us how exuberant and rich a life can be when a person does what God created them for. Look at all the things she was into. A scientist, an artist, a musician, an architect, and, of course, the writer of countless profound sermons, poems and letters, she was always creating, and all of what she built, sang, studied and wrote was in service to God.
My own creative projects are much more limited. But I can sometimes sense the inner relationship that leads me to do what I was created for. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” says today’s passage from Colossians. The Word, which was present at the dawning of the world, is also here now, woven into the fabric of existence. Dying to ourselves, to the concerns, goals and dreams of society, we find the word of Christ already resident within us. When we allow ourselves to be led by it, we find peace and the possibility of abundance. We know what expresses our unique, God-given nature.
Maybe in your heart there is a green song or a gentle word. Maybe the wisdom of the indwelling Word wants to spill out from your lips. Perhaps your music is a plank hammered true or the removal of dangerous growths from other people’s bodies. Perhaps your psalm is a praise of the nature of weather – or of a single, healing plant.
I hope that we all, like Hildegard of Bingen, allow our creative lives to unfold profusely and dynamically, and that we reach in everything we do for a deeper understanding of God and God’s world. I hope we all find the ways to allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly, for the wealth thus engendered would swamp the world with love. And may my hope and the hope of each of us be simply this: that at the end of the day we have done what God created us for.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Icon of Hildegard of Bingen by Laurie Gudim