On December 20, 2014, I cut down a live Noble Fir at a Christmas Tree Farm in North Plains, Oregon on my way home to Cannon Beach, Oregon. That same evening, I put the tree into a tree stand, and brought it into our home for our Advent/Christmas celebration. We decorated this tree with lights, Danish ornaments and flags in honor of my wife’s Danish heritage, and danced around this tree on Christmas eve, singing carols celebrating our Lord’s birth. Then, the day after Epiphany, January 6, 2015, I took this tree outside still in its tree stand, and stood it on our front entry stairs, under the sky. In our part of the world, it rains a lot. We get over six feet of rain every year on the north Oregon coast. So I was not surprised to see our fresh cut Christmas tree still green in February. What has amazed me though, is that this cut Christmas tree remains as fresh and green as the day I cut it six months later, now in May, 2015. How do you keep your spiritual life fresh and green, growing new season by season? This question is an ancient one. A one word answer comes from St. Hildegard, in Latin, viriditas, the quality of our Lord that keeps our spiritual life ever greening. Literally, viriditas means “greenness”, and figuratively meaning vital, growing, verdant, or alive. Hildegard of Bingen grew up in a fertile region of Germany, along the Rhine River, in one of the most famous and fertile vineyard regions in all Europe, the Rheingau, on the hillsides along the Rhine river near Mainz, Germany. Later this year, in September, 2015, Lord willing, my wife and I will make a pilgrimage to St. Hildegard’s Abbey, where we will stay in their Guesthouse, and daily join the Sisters of Hildegard in daily prayer and worship. This Abbey is surrounded by vineyards, and the viticultural industry, their main way of supporting their ministry to this day, dating back one thousand years. How do you care for your soul, for the “greening” of your soul, so that you will not dry up, your leaves will not wither, but in all you do, you will prosper? Psalm 1 offers ancient wisdom for us today: Delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate on his law day and night. [You will be] like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever [you] do prospers.
Photo Credit: Thomas Robinson (2008), taken from St. Hildegard abbey, above Rudesheim, Germany, overlooking the Rhine River. See www.zoomdak.com