Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Creative Visioning in the Voice of a Future Scholar

September 17 is the feast day of Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, herbalist, musical composer, naturalist, and Abbess. Her life was full of accomplishments, an amazing feat considering she lived in the twelfth century.  For more, see this post on my theology blog.

When the calendar returns to the feast days of amazing medieval women (Hildegard, Brigid, Julian), I fight my feelings of inadequacy.

Long ago, a wise yoga teacher told me, "Don't look at others.  It won't help you hold the pose, and it will probably make it harder."  I think I've embroidered her words, but I've captured the idea.

I would probably be more gentle with myself if I thought of what future scholars might say when they talked about me:  

She was able to keep writing her poetry, along with surprising works of fiction, as she navigated the demands of various types of day jobs:  teacher, administrator, . . .   .  She did volunteer work, often the unglamorous but necessary type, like counting the offering money after church and depositing it in the bank.  She worked with first generation students, thousands of them, offering the support and encouragement they needed to make their way in the world.  She did similar work with other groups who were at the margins of society, during a time when so many people found themselves being pushed to those margins.

Now let me do something similar, as I think about the directions I might go.  How would future scholars talk about that?  Let me do some creative visioning, in the voice of a future scholar:

In her midlife years, when so many people decide to coast, she turned her sights to different vistas.  She pursued new interests, and her work that mixed markers, words, and collage, led her in inspiring directions.  She got several certificates and degrees in theology and the arts, and did pioneering work in online retreats.  Her work in theology brought many people to a new understanding of the Gospels.  Late in midlife, she published her pioneering work that combined poetry, theology, and sketches in her singular style that would become so recognizable.  She took the proceeds from that publishing success and created her monastic community that offered shelter in a dark time and that continues to nourish so many.

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