As Stars in the Night

Full moon for Loy Krathong 2011: seen in Pattaya, Thailand

Probably echoing Saint Paul in Philippians 2:15, Saint Hildegard von Bingen writes about stars in the night sky to a fellow abbess:

In the same way that the stars illuminate the sky at night, God made humanity to sparkle. We’re created for maturity. We’re made to give out light like the sun, the moon, and the stars.

It’s not hard to read a theme of Transfiguration in Christ into these words. “To sparkle” isn’t exactly an activity in itself, by which the human being does a particular, singular action. It’s more about the visible essence of the star itself. It’s one thing to say “to heat” or “to give us light”; it’s another to describe what it is about the nature of stars in themselves.

Transfiguration in Christ engages visibility, for when the body and all its visibility is taken up by the Spirit, who is by essence invisible, a kind of transmuting or transformation of human living, human appearance, and human visibility are involved. The interplay between normal visibility and That which is normally invisible results in something seen. In fact, in Eastern Christianity, this is often compared to the Transfiguration of Christ: here we have Transfiguration in Christ. And if this is not exactly what Saint Hildegard meant, at least it is one useful thing that can be drawn from her words. We were made, through humility and being taken up by the Spirit, “to sparkle”.

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One thought on “As Stars in the Night

  1. Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
    ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’ Matthew 5:14-16

    When I was a child I called them ‘shiny people’. It was before I even knew what it meant. I just knew that some people were shiny and I wanted what they had. The thing about shiny people is that you can’t stop looking at them – you’re drawn to them, but it’s not because of something on the outside – it’s like someone lit a lamp behind their eyes. :-)

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