Viriditas is coming to the Diocese of Ohio. The name was originally coined by the 12th-century mystic Hildegarde of Bingen, whose visions of God were expressed through her music, her art, and her passion for healing and justice that came out her experience of God’s all-encompassing love. In her songs, the word “viriditas,” with its strong association with the Latin words for “green growth” and “strength,” was applied both to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit.
Three women — The Rev. Nancy Roth, Denise Stewart, and the Rev. Lydia Bailey — met in early summer to discuss creating a present-day Viriditas opportunity for Christians to express our relationship with the holy through the arts.
This is not a new idea, but has been built on the church’s long tradition of using the arts as an alternative theological language, through architecture (“sermons in stone”), stained glass, music, and liturgical action. These “languages beyond words” not only deepen the believer’s relationship with God, but serve to draw in people from outside the faith community.
In the process of actually using these “languages beyond words” ourselves, we grow in our identity as creatures made in the image of our Creator God. Since the arts appeal to the senses, we also discover our bodies as “temples of the Spirit,” part of the intricacy and beauty of the natural world. Appreciating our creatureliness leads to an increased sense of stewardship of our earthly home: we notice that the natural world itself can reveal God, and are likely to grow in compassion for the other members of God’s creation who share life on this planet.
The first Viriditas retreat/workshop will be held on Saturday, October 4, from 10 am to 4 pm at the Red/Oak/Red Barn camp(adjoining the Holden Arboretum), 9057 Kirtland Chardon Road, Kirtland, Ohio. Sponsored by the North East MIssion Area of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, it is open to all, both within and outside that region..
The presenters will be the Rev. Nancy Roth, Denise Stewart, and the Rev. Lydia Bailey.
The Rev. Nancy Roth, an assisting priest at Christ Church, Oberlin, is known throughout the national church for her many books and her work as retreat and workshop leader. She has traveled extensively as a retreat and workshop leader, both in the United States and in England. A graduate of the General Theological Seminary, she was later awarded an honorary doctorate for her work in the wider church. Before moving to Ohio, she was program coordinator at Holy Cross Monastery (where the concept of aViriditas community originated), Christian Education Consultant at Trinity Church, Wall Street, NYC, and a meditation teacher at Manhattan Plaza, a housing complex for performing artists near Times Square. For several years, she was the chaplain to the spouses of the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. She graduated from Oberlin College with a major in music,and also has had extensive training in dance and movement.
Her session at “Viriditas” will include an exploration of the concept of the body as “temple of the Spirit”: how our bodies can both prepare for prayer, through gentle stretching, relaxation, and attentiveness to the breath, and how simple movement, such as meditation walking, can itself express prayer, and also be used to interpret Scripture.
Denise Stewart graduated with a BS degree in Education from Boston University and a BFA in Printmaking from the Cleveland Institute of Art. She combines teaching with her work in print by offering classes and giving lectures as a visiting artist. She is a resident artist at Zygote Press in Cleveland’s Art District. Denise is a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lyndhurst where she is a member of the Music, Art in Worship, Garden and Children’s Outdoor Summer Service ministries. She is the voice and hands for Hope, a girl puppet who loves God.
Denise will lead the session “The Creative Spirit in Nature.” Inspired by the work of artist Andy Goldsworthy, participants will create small installations using materials from nature. This hands-on activity requires no former art background.
The Rev. Lydia Bailey lives with her family in Kirtland. Her contemplative form of prayer and connection with the natural world in all its seasons is key to her sense of God’s love. As a deacon in our diocese she takes this awareness to Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s Men’s Homeless Shelter, 2100 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, where she has been on full-time staff the last eight years. Lydia is the creator of the exhibit Portraits of Homelessness and has led retreats at the Cleveland Museum of Art on contemplative looking as a road leading to service in the wider world. She has a BA from Reed College, Portland, Oregon, with graduate coursesfrom the Banff School of Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada. As an option for the day, Lydia will lead a “meditation walk” in the old growth forest that surrounds Red Oak Camp.
We visualize Viriditas as a “moveable feast”: this event will be available to other areas of the Diocese in the future. Interested groups can contact the Rev. Lydia Bailey at 440-525-3219 or the Rev. Nancy Roth at 440-774-1813.
The cost of $32.00 includes continental breakfast, lunch, and registration fee.Register at:https://viriditas14.eventbrite.com
People of all artistic ability levels, all ages, and all degrees of fitness are welcome. Wear comfortable clothes for both indoors and outdoors.