O how wondrous
is the foreknowledge of the divine heart
that knew every creature in advance.
For when God looked upon the human face
that he had formed,
he glimpsed all his works,
in that same human form, all summed up.
O how wondrous is the inspiration
that has thus animated the human being.
Hildegard of Bingen, “O quam mirabilis”
Creator God, your love for us is apparent in the wonder and complexity with which we are made. We are created with endless diversity, each face distinct, each personality unique, and yet we all bear your divine image. The inspiration with which you breathed us into life is displayed in so many ways:
- In the perseverance and strength of athletes during the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil;
- In the persistence of rescue crews in Bukoba, Tanzania, who searched for survivors of an earthquake, and crews who worked in Taiwan and China to evacuate families and prepare for the arrival of Super Typhoon Meranti;
- In the devotion of over 1.8 million Muslims who traveled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the Hajj pilgrimage;
- In the compassion and courage of first responders in O Porrino, Spain, who worked to rescue victims of a deadly train crash, and in Tongi, Bangladesh, who battled a fire caused by a deadly factory explosion;
- In the emerging hope for peace in Colombia, where FARC rebels have released a group of child soldiers and have promised to discontinue recruitment of children.
We know, Lord, that you rejoice with us when we embody the love and care for which you created us. And yet so often we fall short, seeing the gift of diversity as a threat and forgetting the divine image that we all possess. Fear, suffering, and broken relationships disfigure your divine image and damage your creation in so many ways:
- In violent hate crimes perpetrated against Muslim mothers in New York, US and Bletchley, UK;
- In a successful nuclear test in North Korea, which deepens tension among nations and adds to the number of nuclear-capable countries, including Russia, the US, France, China, the UK, Pakistan, India, and Israel;
- In acts of terrorism designed to spread fear and perpetuate extremism in Minto, Australia; Shikarpur, Pakistan; and around the globe.
Forgive us for abandoning our primary identity as your beloved children. Bring hope and healing to our broken world. Give us strength and inspiration to look into the faces of our neighbors and see what you see: A glimpse of all your works, a glimpse of you.
Note: Many Christians celebrate the feast of St Hildegard of Bingen on 17 September. Hildegard was a Benedictine nun and Christian mystic, writer, and composer in 10th century Germany.