“How do I get close to God?” A friend recently asked me this question, and I would like to share a bit of my answer to her. “It is about prayer and meditation”, I told her. Ok…now how do I pray and meditate? I would like to give you an example of one way that Hildegard prayed and meditated and give you some guidelines on ways to incorporate her experience into your daily life.
Let’s start with an excerpt from the appendix of Matthew Fox’s latest book Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint For Our Times(pages 133/134): “Hildegard, like all Benedictine monks and sisters, chanted the psalms daily. The psalms of course are the wisdom poetry of Israel, and they therefore fed the heart of Jesus. I don’t recommend rushing through the psalms or saying certain prayers each day to complete a form in a prayer book. I recommend instead sitting with just one psalm at a time, reading it slowly-preferably out loud- and stop wherever or whenever your heart is touched. Don’t keep going. The purpose is not to get to the end. The purpose is to dwell on the insight, the word, the phrase, the image that stops you in your tracks. Dwell with it. Don’t move on. Be with the word or phrase or words. Let what has stopped you work its power on you.”
I have worked very deeply with Psalm 91. As I connected with the words of this psalm, I received a melody. David Sharp (my husband) created an arrangement for me to sing with and record. We then created movement to accompany the song. Those of you who saw my performance piece Feathers On The Breath Of God, witnessed me putting some of this journey on the stage at the Nomad in the summer of 2011. For those of you who find this process inspiring and didn’t get to see me do it live, I suggest you purchase the CD or even better the DVD of the movie of Feathers (both available on my website) and really see what can happen when we pray a psalm. It has worked wonders for Hildegard and me, and it will work wonders for you!