The Sisters of The Good Samaritan - Protection of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults
December 2019

Struggle in Exile

It is 1178, the year before Hildegard of Bingen dies. The Bishop has silenced the music in their Abbey as punishment and some of the Sisters are feeling discouraged; however, Hildegard still crossed the Rhine to visit her second convent every week and encouraged her Sisters in their work and prayer.

By Colleen Keating

 

Advent
casts deep sorrow.
It is cold, dark, silent.
Hildegard hears mumblings.
She reassures her Sisters
with her presence at Rupertsberg,
her visits to Eibingen.

 

The darkest nights of the year
anticipate the fledgling Christ Light.
In the Chapel candlelight
resolve flickers in her eyes.
Listen, listen, listen.
My Sisters this is our time to listen.
As we pray the words,
listen to their song in your hearts,
she continues,
The Bishop cannot forbid us to listen.
Silencing the outer sound
does not silence us.
Search out the house of your heart.
Hope lies within.
She points to the fallowed gardens
blanketed by white-sleeted hay.
Contemplate its promise.
As silence in absence of bird-song
reminds us, music will return.

 

While the interdict diminishes them,
meal time together brings nourishment:
hot spelt bread, garden broths, teas
and from their harvest of stored foods,
bottled quince, the warmth of
herbs and hot berry wines.
They listen to the Nativity story.
Conversation swirls over the tables.

 

When the postulants, last season,
singing joyfully, picked purple sloes
and red hawthorn berries in the woods,
to brew and bottle,
little did they know the comfort,
their warm wines would be,
how perfect for this dark time.

Colleen Keating

Colleen Keating is a Sydney-based poet and writer. Through her work she “explores the paradox and wonder of nature, the harsh realities of life, of inequality, injustice and increasing threat to our natural environment”. In November 2017 Colleen published her second book of poetry, "Fire on Water" (Ginninderra Press), which recently won a silver Nautilus Book Award. Colleen’s website is colleenkeatingpoet.com.au

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