A feather on the breath of God

Today, the church remembers in its calendar St. Hildegard, abbess, spiritual writer, and generally all-round very impressive person of the twelfth century.

Seeing that in the lectionary reminded me of a quote of hers which has been a personal favourite for a long time:

“Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne.
Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honour.
Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly.
The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along.
Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.”

I love this image because of the sense of freedom and encouragement it offers.  Hildegard was a woman who worked hard; doctor of the church, theologian, scholar, composer, leader of her community and mystic, I have no doubt her days were full and busy.  And yet in what she did, she knew that ultimately the results rested not on her efforts, but on the grace and power of the one who upheld and carried her (and indeed her religious community and the whole church).

Here is an invitation to let go of anxiety, and to find oneself to be caught up in the image and on the breath of God, borne along as we work towards the accomplishment of the good works we are each given to do, confident that our own inadequacies are not the determinant of the final outcomes.

Thus may each of us be; a feather on the breath of God.



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