“Listen: There was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God.” ~ Hildegard of Bingen
I have been drawn to Hildegard in various ways since I was a teenager. Several years ago, this attraction drew me to a presentation at Aquinas Institute in St. Louis where I met a dynamic Sister who was presenting a program on the art and theology of the Medieval mystic. Both the Sister and the Mystic have remained in my life and I have found Hildegard’s imagery of the feather on the breath of God provocative in many ways. My theology and hers might appear different on the surface, but I think we are both, or I should say all three of us, are working with the same material and expressing it a bit differently.
Where am I flying? When do I “flap my wings” and when do I glide, allowing myself to be lifted and carried? These are difficult, anxious questions sometimes.
Feathers fascinate me and I typically come across them in droves as I walk around. Of course, when it occurred to me that I’d like to paint one, I had to refer to photographs as no real life example presented itself.
I also admit that, while I continue to paint, the process of scanning and posting sometimes lags behind.
(© Karen Opp. All rights reserved.)