This is the summer of Hildegard. I’m fresh back from my second visit to the Abbey of Saint Hildegard in Eibingen, Germany. What better time to tackle another revision of the story of this abbess who captured my attention ten years ago?
So today I began. With the singing of Vespers echoing in my mind, I re-read my manuscript. I put myself back in the abbey church at dusk. One nun approached from the choir. She turned a key to lock the wrought iron gate that separates the altar from the pews. Then she lit the floor candle, turned up the lights and exited. Very soon the sound of many footsteps signaled that the nuns were entering the choir. They were hidden from view as their voices blended together in the Vespers Psalm. One voice led and fifty-something voices responded. It did not matter that I couldn’t see the nuns. Their crystalline voices were enough.
This was Hildegard’s life, too. Though her cloistered beginning was secret, her life blossomed. She dared to write her visions, though punishment for heresy was death.
My task is to make the 12th century life of this Benedictine nun come alive for today’s young teens. How can they believe in her and understand her spiritual yearning?