By The Rev. Connie Yost
I am home from my trip to Germany which, like all the best travel experiences, was much more and much less than I expected. The less part was that I expected to experience the "greening" of Spring that Hildegard of Bingen wrote so much about. That was not to be as there was a huge blizzard in the area just 2 days before I arrived. So instead of green, I looked out my hotel window and saw various shades of white and gray for the first few days. I never imagined that we would be running around in the snow at Disibodenberg where Hildegard lived until she was nearly 50 years old (just ruins now, but still a wonderful site, even in the snow). I was on retreat with 30 other people, visiting the sites where Hildegard lived and did her ministry. She left Disibodenberg to found the monastery at Rupertsberg (the only original part of the structure left is just a cellar now), and if that wasn't enough, at age 67 she acquired the damaged buildings of the Eibingen convent and restored them for 30 of her Benedictine sisters and thereafter, crossed the Rhine twice a week to supervise her two monasteries until she died at age 81.
Part of the "more" part of the trip was all that I learned and experienced about Hildegard. She was a pistol in her time, influencing the pope and cardinals and gaining audiences and respect in high places despite her criticisms of the Church (Catholic, of course, in those days). She continues to inspire us today. In fact, there is an incredible surge of interest in her ministry today. She even finally made it to the top of sainthood in the Catholic Church, being declared a doctor of the church just last fall, taking only 900 years to get there! (A lesson in patience, for sure.)
But an unexpected gift of this trip was very personal for me, as I embraced my German ancestry and had an opportunity to speak with Germans of my generation there. I had never thought about what someone my age, born post-WWII in Germany would have experienced. My father returned from WWII a hero. Their fathers were forced into war for 6 or more years, and though not Nazis, still had to live in a defeated country, dealing with national guilt and ill-conceived programs for reparation. I realized how important it is to build bridges across language and nationality and all other artificial boundaries that seem to separate us. And most importantly, I was reminded to approach everyone with compassion. You never know what someone has gone through. We are one, and we all need compassion.
It is with sadness but also with the joy of anticipation for a new life that I say goodbye to you and my time at UUCS. I bought a new home in Portland and will be moving over the next few weeks. I have enjoyed getting to know many of you, as well as teaching, preaching and writing this newsletter column. I will continue my ministry with Chalice Oak Foundation, which will be easier being closer to the airport! Mostly I look forward to having more free time in "semi-retirement." Hildegard has inspired me to reclaim my creative self, to live into the fullness of all my gifts. For me, that is getting back to playing piano and guitar, continuing my gardening, and taking up drawing and painting once again.
Hildegard shows us that we are not limited in our gifts to one or two or even five things! She was: abbess/artist/cosmologist/composer/counselor/dietician/dramatist/epistoler/healer/linguist/mystic/
naturalist/philosopher/poet/political consultant/preacher/prophet/visionary who wrote theological, naturalistic, botanical, medicinal, and dietary texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, poems, and the play, while supervising brilliant miniature illuminations. Wow!
May you live in the fullness of your creative gifts.
Love and blessings on the journey,
Copyright 2013 Constance B. Yost. All rights reserved