Hildegard of Bingen: Awakening the Senses

We are dressed in the scaffold of creation:  in seeing . . . to recognize all the world, in hearing . . . to understand, in smelling . . . to discern, in tasting . . . to nurture, in touching . . . to govern. In this way humankind comes to know God, for God is the author of all creation.

These words by 12th century Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, visionary, writer, founder of monasteries, Christian mystic, and composer inspire the call to awaken the senses.  The senses, from Hildegard’s point of view, are conduits to the Divine.

Through our abilities of touching, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and discerning (intuiting) we gather insight and inspiration about our environments, daily experiences, and life itself with all its wonder and complexity.  Engaging our senses opens portals of inner discovery and possibilities for for co-creation with God.

Unlike Hildegard’s medieval world, our contemporary life often doesn’t provide obvious opportunities to engage our senses.  Consider how many times a day you touch something made by human hands versus something from the natural world.

Unlike the folks of the Middle Ages, our senses are rarely used to gather necessary information for survival.  Our meat comes hermetically sealed and FDA inspected.  We don’t need to carefully sample our micro-waved dinner to be sure it’s fresh and eatable.   The T.V. or Internet provide the daily weather forecast.  Sniffing the breeze for the smell of rain is not our usual instrument for thunderstorm predictions.

There are countless other ways our senses are no longer engaged with our surroundings, with nature and creation.  In fact, our way of life has atrophied our senses.  Not unlike, the way muscles go soft without exercise.

Contemplate how your life might benefit if you begin exercising your senses. Can you imagine ways to begin to reactivate your senses to deepen the experience of feeling a sacred connection to life? What would it feel like to be a full participant in creation and co-creation with God as Hildegard described so many years ago?  How might your day be enriched if you opened your eyes to behold what’s in front of you with reverence and awe?

Perhaps that’s a starting place… simply make the internal shift from seeing the world as you go about your life, to beholding the person, the thing or situation that’s on the path there before you.  Try looking with the eyes of your heart and possibly your other senses will follow the example. See, listen, touch, taste, smell, and discern passionately and reverently as you live each day… become a co-creator with God.

If you’d like to explore your senses as conduits to the Divine visit Sacred Life-Arts to learn more about my 7-Day E-Course, The Sensual Life: Sacred Practices for Vibrant Living.

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