Part of Stillpoint’s mission is to offer one-day contemplative retreats throughout the year to nurture the soul. Our calendar is released in early September. Mirabai Starr will be our first retreat leader, on October 5th, offering a day immersed in her new work, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics. We hope this day together will help us to access this same wisdom in ourselves. I encourage you to come.
The gift the women mystics give to us is their feminine lens on the mystery of God, creation and the human condition. Many of them, like Theresa of Avila and Hildegard, lived apart from the male-dominated culture of the world outside the abbey walls. They were a holy laboratory hidden from the world. They wrote theology, prayers, full liturgies, and sacred music out of their unique experience as women. The environment they inhabited is hard to duplicate. Alongside these women were those living in the wider world, yetcreating their own interior monastery. They all represent a tradition of women obedient to their own created being.
Their witness is sought more and more in our current age as we recognize the imbalance of a world not supported enough by feminine wisdom, and not sustainable without it.
I heard a chief of the Sioux Nation speak at the Parliament of World Religions in 2015. He echoed this sense of in-sustainability. “We are killing our seed bearers. We must see our Mother, the earth, as what she is, our source of life, and not as a resource for our consumption. We are killing the seed bearer. It is the way we treat our women and girls. We are killing our seed bearers.”
Mirabai Starr is among those connecting us today with the wisdom of the women mystics, not for their historical value, but rather to help empower us today to access this wisdom for the life of the world. The chapter titles of her new book are a list of attributes of feminine wisdom: connecting, embracing, sheltering, breaking open, laying down burdens, to name a few. These attributes are present in all of us, and we need them to gain strength in the mainstream of life.
One of the great treasures I carry with me from the women mystics is Hildegard’s word viriditas, a Latin word meaning greening. Living in the German countryside, she would have experienced this greening power every spring. The dead earth would come back to life. I know this experience. I grew up at the same latitude as Germany in Central New York State. Just when you thought you could not survive another minute of winter, you noticed a very subtle change. The air was a fraction heavier, the sky a fraction lighter, and it was then that you knew what was about to happen. And suddenly, there it was, the first green blade of grass. My heart would always leap. What was on its way could not be stopped. One green blade of grass would soon be a field of green. And then blossoms, and then new leaves. The world would be transformed. There was nothing that could hold back the greening that had begun. While Hildegard didn’t invent the word viriditas, her use of it was unique. Viriditas was the greening power of God she saw in all of creation. What we have left for dead, the creator has power to green again.
The green blades of feminine wisdom are sprouting across our planet. Welcoming them is welcoming new life for the earth.
Blessings for the Journey,