Nature Notes - May 2022
- by James Inabinet, PhD
Saint Hildegard von Bingen, a twelfth century mystic and abbess, shared her experience of a “most honored Greening Force” in the Rhineland’s fields and forests. Seeing everything in the “light of God,” she described this mysterious “green” force as coursing throughout nature, animating, quickening, enlivening whatever it touched, from verdant fertile earth, to unfurling green leaves, even the lush green moistness of a person’s soul. This greening life-force is a sign of abundance; indeed, it sustains and animates all life, making things live: “You who roots in the Sun.”
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This greening spring seems to have appeared overnight too, a stark contrast to winter’s black and white, sparse insects, few leaves, a million shades of noir. To be sure, even winter’s pale forest is not all black and white; evergreens punctuate the dreariness while other plants hold onto leaves with splotches of black, red, or yellow accents.
It’s still dreary though, but the Greening Moon washes all of that away, a vibrant color palette, bursting life, the rustling of new leaves, the tweeting of returning birds, and the buzz of insect wings – all energized, indeed brought forth by the Greening force: “You who roots in the Sun.”
According to Hildegard, the Greening is first a physical presence. Sun-drenched leaves collect the empowering greenness, but only as they remain rooted in the sun. Through those roots Earth’s nourishment flows up and into every part of the plant which is then shared with the rest of creation.
Humans are so nourished, and perhaps rooted as well, invisible roots, but ties that bind. We feel those roots holding us when we’re being pulled, like when too long away from home. Then our “home roots” are stretched and we long for home, to get grounded, back to our roots. That’s where the most powerful greening force is for human beings, I think, at home: “You who roots in the Sun.”
Hildegard insisted that this greening lushness and fecundity can be experienced spiritually too, even as we witness it in forests and gardens. It can be spiritually cultivated by simply seeking out the green wetness to experience it in our souls.
Dryness, ariditas, is its counterpoint, a shriveling up and drying out that negates or blocks the creative life-force. Ariditas makes me think of winter, crispy brown leaves, a barren husk, drained of the inspiring green energy. But in the life of the soul, those times are important too – even necessary. How can someone fully experience the moist green quickening of spirit in life if that soul is never drained of its moistness?
This soulful greening force can be fostered by contemplation under the auspices that we are never separate from the rest of nature. Indeed, to wake up to that fact is to be halfway there. Hildegard insists that a connection to the whole cosmos is always there: “every thing that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, is penetrated with relatedness.”
Alchemists – and Carl Jung too – spoke of the idea of a Unus Mundus, a “one-world” primordial and unified reality out of which the cosmos arises. If the cosmos is so unified, at least in a spiritual sense, and I’m in it, then I literally am Earth (not just on it).
Sit with this truth to feel it. Further, if I am Earth herself, what, then, is my role within her dynamism, my part in all of this and how can I come to know it? How can I be expected to play my part if I don’t know what it is?
This kind of questioning led me into nature to map out myriad pathways to unify and integrate my own microcosmic mind, body, and soul with the macrocosmic mind, body, and soul of nature.
For the sake of a Greening harmony that heals, indeed makes, my own soul. Only through grounded relationships with human and natural worlds might such harmony occur. Out of this resonance, a feeling of being part of the “flow” of nature arises, of being blessed somehow and a fortunate being – no matter what happens.
Within that communion blessing comes the palpable, healing, Greening Force, “You who roots in the Sun.”
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