I came across a wonderful term this past month: “viriditas.” The visionary medieval abbess Hildegard of Bingen often referred to this concept in her writings. Viriditas is a Latin term which is best understood as “the greening of things from the inside out.” Spring is the first thing that came to my mind when I heard this definition. I mean, think about the burgeoning leaves as the chlorophyll pushes forth from deep within the tree causing the viriditas of the leaves. It’s the perfect descriptor.
Viriditas, however, has a deeper theological meaning. All throughout the season of Lent we are like those dormant trees; frozen, leafless, gray. And it’s during this season, this winter of introspection and hopefully change, that we anticipate the viriditas of Easter. We await once again the resurrection that follows death. We expectantly look for signs of a spiritual spring as humanity and creation respond to the mystical Divine energy as it’s once again unleashed on the world. And it’s from somewhere deep within our being that this viriditas of the spirit; this resurrection of life; this greening of our faith, emerges.
“Now, that’s nice and very theological,” you might say, “but what difference does this concept of ‘greening’ make in the real world?” Well, consider some of the problems we face as a global community. The horrors of war and terrorism, on-going violence against woman and marginalized communities, unchecked genocide, extreme nationalism and the underlying racism that fuels it, the hopelessness of poverty and hunger, and the ever-intensifying threat of global climate change, just to name a few. These are the seemingly lifeless branches on our global tree.
But what if these branches aren’t dead? What if they’re only sleeping? That would mean somewhere deep within the tree of life the chlorophyll is gathering, waiting to push forth the leaves of change; the spirit of resurrection. So, as a community of faith, what would it look like if we were to be agents of this coming change and participants in this spiritual resurrection? What if we were to take seriously the challenge of the gospels to share the love of God, the compassion of the Christ, and the unity of the Spirit with all humanity and all creation? Where might this greening of our faith; this viriditas of our being, take us? I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out?
Shalom and many blessings as we continue to journey together