I know exactly one person who knew as a child what she wanted to be when she grew up. One. She told us in second grade what she planned to do for a living, and she was right. She might tell the story differently as far as how that all unfolded, but from the perspective of an outside observer, she hit the nail on the head.
That said, many of us take a meandering road toward our calling, and even then only dabble in the pursuits that make our hearts sing. Very often, however, we notice that those gifts we uncover later in life were planted in us early-on. Sometimes the hobbies or tendencies we experienced as children shed a great deal of light on our “blue flame” later on.
A Woman of Many Talents
Saint Hildegard of Bingen fits beautifully into both camps. Her early encounters with the Lord made it clear that her life would be particularly inspired, not to mention the wide array of talents she had up her sleeve. Though quiet at first, her willingness to trust the Spirit’s guidance for her life blessed the world tremendously.
There is a lot to love about Hildegard. She was a great many things in her lifetime: poet, theologian, pharmacist, artist, composer, and mystic to name a few. She is the 35th Doctor of the Church, and the fourth woman to be given the title (alongside Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint Therese of Lisieux). It was as recently as 2012 that Hildegard was canonized as a Doctor of the Church.
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Our Particular Callings
In many cases people were reluctant to believe that one person could be gifted in so many different ways—that is my initial response as well!
“No way,” I think to myself. No way one person has been so divinely inspired in so many ways when so often I feel like a mediocre disciple trying to hone in on one area where I might have more to offer. Turns out I have been overlooking one major factor.
Trust in my particular calling (and others’ for that matter).
People had suspicions about Jesus, too. “Is he not the carpenter’s son?”
“Where did all of this extraordinary grace and wisdom come from?” they muttered out of suspicion.
But, we know something the people of Jesus’ time did not. We know exactly where that grace and wisdom were coming from. Though their identities are entirely distinct, I suspect we can confidently say the something similar of Saint Hildegard, they have one defining characteristic in common:
Jesus, and Hildegard (and all of the saints) through His grace, exemplify the abundantly fruitful lives we are capable of living when we place our trust in God’s plan for us.
Each had a radical confidence in what the Father was entrusting to them.
My Own Capacity to Trust
I read a comment from Mother Angelica recently that made me wonder at my own capacity for trust, and how much more the Lord would accomplish through me with my willingness to trust that I too might be a conduit for grace in large and small ways.
I am not afraid to fail, I am scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me. ‘Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted me more’. // Mother Angelica
Saint Hildegard may have been ahead of her time. Perhaps she was just too busy to give in to worry about the variety and magnitude of her particular call. She was both confident and humble in the sharing of her gifts. There is no question that she was given a tremendous capacity to serve God. She stewarded it well and the ripple effect has been substantial.
Has your own playing small served the greater good? Where have you felt compelled to a place of greater trust?
All of creation is a song of praise to God. Love abounds in all things, excels from the depths to beyond the stars, is lovingly disposed to all things. // Hildegard of Bingen
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