The mother of all virtues: moderation. First letter in the series on St. Hildegard’s personal correspondence.

Hildegard writing imageThe first letter we are going to highlight in our series on the personal correspondence of St. Hildegard of Bingen talks about the mother of all virtues: moderation. As an abbess St. Hildegard felt herself charged with the care of souls. She saw the purpose of her visionary gifts as charismatas of service. We see this most beautifully in St. Hildegard’s correspondence, as in the following excerpt from a letter St. Hildegard wrote to Elisabeth of Schöngau. St. Hildegard’s correspondence with the young Benedictine nun Elisabeth has a special character because Elisabeth was a visionary too. We have three letters of Elisabeth to St. Hildegard and two from St. Hildegard to Elisabeth. Elisabeth was severely ill, partly through her own excessive asceticism, when St. Hildegard wrote her last letter.

“In a true vision I saw and heard the following words:‘O daughter of God, out of your love for God you call a poor creature like myself, “Mother.” Listen then to your mother and learn moderation! For moderation is the mother of all virtues for everything heavenly and earthly. For it is through moderation that the body is nourished with the proper discipline. Any human being who thinks about her sins with sighs of regret – all those sins which she has committed in thought, word and deed through the Devil’s inspiration – must embrace this mother, discretion, and with the counsel of her religious superiors repent of her sins in true humility and sincere obedience. When there are unseasonable downpours, the fruit and vegetables growing on Earth are damaged; when a field has not been plowed, you do not find good grain springing up, instead there are only useless weeds. It’s the same with a person who lays on herself more strain than she can endure. This is a sign that the effects of holy discretion are weak in such a person. And all of this immoderate straining and abstinence bring nothing useful to the soul.’” – Hildgard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works With Letters and Songs by Matthew Fox.

Is the mother of all virtues active in your life? Do you lay on yourself more strain than you can endure at times? Do you have adequate amounts of rest and do you let yourself enjoy the pleasures of being human? I am learning so much about rest these days. For me rest is sleeping deeply, meditating, doing nothing….it is not worrying, it is not going for a leisurely walk, it is not reading a thrilling novel…. Regarding enjoying the pleasures of being human, this morning I enjoyed a delicious bowl of creamy oatmeal with bananas and nuts and an exquisite cup of espresso…. What pleasures of being human have you recently enjoyed?

In Viriditas,

Tap Into Transformation, November

Let’s sing, dance, and grow together…while having an absolute BLAST!!

Tap Into Transformation
At the Viriditas Studio
4939 N. Broadway, Unit 65,
Boulder, CO 80304
November 1, 2013 7:00 – 9:00 pm

JGA tap photoDS tap photo reduced

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day.
(Jimmy Cliff)

The November Tap Into Transformation theme, “NEW BEGINNINGS”  kicks off our second year! Come and be part of a dynamic community that tap dances together, sings together, dines together, and this month will create poetry together. You don’t need tap shoes because we have them for you.

Come join husband and wife duo Dr. Jeannine Goode-Allen and Dr. David Sharp in an evening of transformational song, poetry and tap dancing in our gorgeous and inspiring Viriditas Studio in North Boulder. You will laugh, smile and stomp your feet while feeling the joy of moving your body and opening your heart to awe, wonder, beauty, gratitude and more.

group tap photo
Our world so needs each of us to step out onto the stage of life and make manifest our great potential. Experience us as we pave the way to do this by exhibiting the power of Divinity In Action through our spectacular..and fun.. gifts.

Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity, in a creative community, to share and honor your own gifts, or be inspired to dive into new ones! We will teach you some basic tap steps, and with these tools, we will journey into our hearts to praise, complain, thank and bless. We will create rhythms, poetry, and prayers with our feet and our bodies, individually and as a group.

To Reserve Tickets:
1.888.612.8189 or
$15.00 admission $10.00 students 

No experience necessary and we provide the tap shoes!
We have food at the intermission, and we will be serving some NOVEL delicacies.


Series on Saint Hildegard’s Personal Correspondence

This is the beginning of a seven part series on the letters of Saint Hildegard referenced from The Personal Correspondence of Hildegard of Bingen by Joseph L. Baird. Last year on October 7, Pope Benedict XVI named Saint Hildegard a Doctor of the Church. Doctor of the Church is a title given by a variety of Christian churches to individuals whom they recognize as having been of particular importance, particularly regarding their contribution to theology or doctrine. As of 2012, the Catholic Church has named 35 Doctors of the Church. Among these 35 only 4 are women: Saint Theresa of Avila, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Therese of Lisieux and Saint Hildegard of Bingen.

Why is Saint Hildegard important? In the introduction of the Scivius Barbara Newman writes: In our own day the voice that Hildegard had called “a small sound of the trumpet from the living Light” is resounding once more. In Germany she still enjoys a wide popular following, and the abbey at Eibingen has become a center of scholarship and pilgrimage. Herbalists have rediscovered some of her prescriptions and begun to experiment with their use in modern homeopathic practice. Musicians have performed her liturgical songs and her drama, the Ordo virtutum, to great acclaim. To students of spirituality Hildegard remains of compelling interest, not only as a rare feminine voice soaring above the patriarchal choirs, but also as a perfect embodiment of the integrated, holistic approach to God and humanity for which our fragmented era longs.

Hildegard corresponded with many of the most important people of her time: with Elanor of Aquitaine, with Henry II of England, with Frederick Barbarossa, with four different popes, with the Empress Irene of Greece, with archbishops and dukes and monks and, in some ways most significant of all, with people of no particular importance whatsoever. In the weeks ahead I will be sharing excerpts from her most personal letters. It is my intention to give you a glimpse of the great heart, incredible courage and unwavering faith of the most remarkable person of the Middle Ages.

This image is a painting I created for the set of Feathers On The Breath Of God. It is a reworking of St. Hildegard’s Autobiographical Illumination. In it we see St. Hildegard with her secretary and life-long friend, the monk Volmar. I do believe that St. Hildegard would not have manifested her divine work without the support of Volmar. He never stopped encouraging her, and they were together for about sixty years. What a blessing for them and for us. Who are the people that have encouraged you in your life?

FOBG2011 Hildegard AutoBio Illumination Painting copy

In Viriditas,

Viriditas Newsletter, October

Dear Viriditas Community,

I am writing this at the Hildegard Desk in my studio looking out into the grey October sky. For those of you who saw Feathers On The Breath Of God, yes, I am talking about the desk that was part of the set…. the one with the lovely green snake curling up the center leg… the one that has the center piece that I pull out at the end when I deliver “my first sermon as Doctor of Ministry.” We did our final performance of Feathers three months ago today in Fort Collins. How time flies when you are having fun!

Having fun, doing things I truly enjoy, has indeed become a theme in my life these days. David and I have actually instituted a weekly “play date”. On Friday every week we turn off our computers and cell phones and ask ourselves…”What would we enjoy doing together today?” Last Friday we went to the Botanical Gardens in Denver.

JGA newsletter photo fall treeAhhh…the peace and breathtaking beauty that surrounded us as we strolled through the Gardens… As we sat in the Japanese Tea Garden I was reminded of the importance of ritual in my life. Ritual infuses me with awe, beauty, connection and tranquility and nourishes me along the path of my life. As David and I walked the stepping stones of the Garden, I thought of the “stepping stones” of this last year of my life…my marriage to David, David’s hip surgery, our first Christmas together with all four children and their friends, purchasing a Steinway, connecting with the Benedictine Community of Benet Hill, the pilgrimage to Germany, the second run of Feathers On The Breath Of God, staying dry during the recent flood…

What will David and I do on our play date this week? We heard that Loveland Ski Resort is actually open and are contemplating getting our skis on this Friday and driving up to Loveland… We will see! Are you having fun these days? I would love to hear what you do to have fun.

Our October Tap Into Transformation was totally fun. In addition to doing the time step to Simon and Garfunkel’s tune “Feeling Groovy”, David taught us how to write a Sharpette, the form of poetry David created many years ago. One of the participants was so tickled by the process, he actually wrote a Sharpette for Sharpette! Here it is:

A three-line verse; a snapshot view
Like a window set, briefly, into a word.

Do join us this coming November 1st for the next Tap Into Transformation. It marks the launching of our second year of Tap Into Transformation, and rumor has it, we are going to have a Sharpette Guessing Game!

My journey with the Marimba Band Knob Mentality continues. I am now fervently practicing my sticking….focusing on using my fingers instead of my wrists and arms. Oooooh do my thumbs get tired…Stay tuned… I will let you know when Knob Mentality is next performing so you can come enjoy the powerful joy of my fast sticking!

On the Saint Hildegard front I want to let you know that I will be doing a blog series on her personal correspondence. It is my intention with this blog series to give you a glimpse of the great heart, incredible courage and unwavering faith of the most remarkable person of the Middle Ages. Check it out during the next seven weeks by clicking here.

FOBG2011 Hildegard AutoBio Illumination Painting copy

I will close with some words from my favorite mystic:

“Be not lax
in celebrating,
Be not lazy
in the festive service of God.

Be ablaze with enthusiasm.
Let us be an alive,
burning offering
before the altar of God! (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

In Viriditas,