Monday, 22 December 2014

Viriditas in Second Life

[originally posted on Wordpress in March 2013]

Most friends who see me logged on between 9 and 9.30 am SLT know that I probably won’t be responding to their IMs immediately. The reason? I’m most likely to be at St Brigid’s, meditating. The church hosts daily silent prayer meetings organised by the Viriditas group. On the Second Life website, the group is described as ”an ecumenical center for Contemplative Christianity offering visitors opportunities to experience the sacred through silence, stillness and spiritual community.” Its ethos and groundedness in Christian monastic practice, leading back to medieval mystics, make these meetings truly meaningful and soul nurturing.

The group’s name itself speaks a lot. Latin word viriditas traces back to Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), one of the most important medieval authors. She wrote books and treatises on theology, also on medicine and natural sciences; a true polymath, and a woman of profound spiritual insight. Not much attested elsewhere, viriditas was the term she frequently used to refer to an aspect of God as a life-giving force present in everything that lives and breathes. In English the word literally means “greenness”, but it is more commonly translated as “greening”, interpreted as a process. Some have suggested that Hildegard used such imagery inspired by the verdant forests surrounding the convents she worked and lived in, in the Rhineland area of present-day Germany. In any case, she was using it as a powerful image of the divine as that which inundates the world with growth and vitality.

True to that imagery, St Brigid’s is also located in a beautiful sim,  surrounded by lush vegetation. If you ever find yourself in need of some peace and quiet from the crazy world of SL (or RL, for that matter), do come for a stroll, or sit in a silent half-hour meeting. Upon arrival you will be offered a notecard briefly explaining the basics of contemplative spirituality, which you can also pick up inside the church. Everyone is welcome to silent prayer, regardless of religious affiliation. Even if you have little interest in things spiritual, you will enjoy Isa Oaklourne’s lovely design.

NOTE The Viriditas sim has since closed. However, the group mentioned in the blog is still there.