“Our very life depends on continuous acts of beginning. But these beginnings are out of our hands; they decide themselves.
Beginning precedes us, creates us. There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning.
More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could."
John O’Donohue

18 September 2016: First Christian Church, San Jose

The Wait

Yesterday was Hildegard’s feast day.
I was 18 years old when I met her
on the lips of a lover,  
under a ceiling of impossibly close stars
in a meadow in Pennsylvania.
'With my mouth,'
God says,
Hildegard wrote,
he whispered,
'I kiss my own creation,
every image I have made out of the earth’s clay.

In the same year of her life,
her feet kissed the threshold
of the convent.
Imagine: finding tenderness
on earth and in heaven
at once.

Not that it comes without question.
Her pen poured out the questions that rose to meet God's answers.
It came to pass, when I was 42 years and 7 months old,
that the heavens were opened
and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance
flowed through my entire brain.
And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame,
not burning but warming
...and suddenly I understood
the meaning of the expositions of the books.
But although I heard and saw these things,
because of doubt and low opinion of myself
and because of the diverse opinions of men,
I refused for a long time the call to write. 

And we also ask: 
How long should we withhold salvation?
How long should we hand out
the curse of human approval?

We cannot live in a world that is not our own,
in a world that is interpreted for us by others.
An interpreted world is not a home.
Part of the terror is to take back our own listening,
to use our own voices, to see our own light.

It took 833 years after her death
for a committee of men in inherited regalia,
at a resplendent table carved by the clandestine dreams
of lesser men
and no women at all,
to declare Hildegard
a Doctor of souls.

It is, I dare say,
too long to wait
to claim this always already sanctified world
as our home.
I dare say
today is the day of your voice,
today is the day of your blessedness,
today is the day that rises to meet you
with endless green promise.