Perhaps like other strong women before and after her, there was an inherent bias against lifting Hildegard up as a model. Like Mary Magdalene, Hildegard had proclaimed God's word to the male hierarchy of Church and empire, becoming an apostle to the apostles. She made many friends along the way, but she also made some enemies, who probably felt threatened by this woman who, despite her statements about the fragility of women, showed herself to be anything but fragile. For Hildegard, men and women were together precious in the eyes of God, and all were linked not only with one another but with all the created order in an ecology grounded in divine love. In this way, there is much of the psalmist in Hildegard, with her rich imagery of the Divine calling all who hear to join in a chorus of praise and worship.
Today, as in her own time, people respond to Hildegard's lyrical descriptions, finding their imaginations stirred by phrases such as, "I awaken all to life with every wind of the air," and again from O Virtus Sapientie, "Power of Wisdom, circling all things, comprehending all things, on one path, which has life." Truly, Hildegard's medium of music served as a message of reverence and intimacy with the Divine. For those with ears to hear, the voice of God inhabited her expressions and utterances. For those tone-deaf to God's harmony, her compositions were a cacophony.
In the end, it didn't matter. For reasons of both envy and neglect, Hildegard of Bingen would never be officially declared a saint. But for countless believers and seekers through the centuries the music of her life has continued to resound and inspire, and Saint Hildegard of blessed memory remains to this day a conduit of God's light and life.
Excerpted from A Dangerous Dozen: Twelve Christians Who Threatened the Status Quo but Taught Us to Live Like Jesus, © 2011 by The Rev. C.K. Robertson, PhD. Permission granted by SkyLight Paths Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091. This book may be purchased directly from www.skylightpaths.com.