Listening to the Saints – Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well”

All shall be well. All shall be well.  All manner of things shall be well

Julian of Norwich was born around 1342.  Very little is known of her life.  Apparently she became gravely ill at age thirty and expected to die. Seven days later the illness passed and she experienced sixteen visions, or revelations. These visions led her to meditate on the death of Jesus Christ. She became an “anchoress”, a recluse living alone in a hut near the church in Norwich, England.

She devoted her life to prayer and contemplation. Her writings became the book Revelations of Divine Love, a spiritual classic. This was the first book written in English by a woman.  Though she lived in solitude, she did gather a reputation as a counselor during her life as many sought her out to speak with her (Source for Julian’s bio found here).

Over the past year  I have been reading some of the classics of Christian spirituality . It has been a challenging experience as their works require a different kind of reading then I usually engage in.  They need to be read slowly and meditatively. There is a spiritual depth in them that cannot be sped through. In this I have been convicted: there are so many books I desire to read that I often am tempted to plow through them, getting the gist of what is going on, before moving to the next one. The mystics cannot be approached in this way (very few books should be approached like this, on that note).

Upon finishing Revelations of Divine Love I went back and looked at my highlights. Surprisingly, since I did not think I highlighted that much, there were nearly sixty passages with highlights!

One theme that comes through in Julian is trust in God’s love and strength. God is all we need, and in this quote the entire universe is portrayed as a mere nut in God’s hand:

 I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us: He is our clothing that for love wrappeth us, claspeth us, and all encloseth us for tender love, that He may never leave us; being to us all-thing that is good, as to mine understanding. Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for little[ness]. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall [last] for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God. In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it.

This love of God is clearly seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that saves us, restoring us to our Creator.

The precious plenty of His dearworthy blood descended down into Hell and burst her bands and delivered all that were there which belonged to the Court of Heaven. The precious plenty of His dearworthy blood overfloweth all Earth, and is ready to wash all creatures of sin, which be of goodwill, have been, and shall be. The precious plenty of His dearworthy blood ascended up into Heaven to the blessed body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and there is in Him, bleeding and praying for us to the Father,–and is, and shall be as long as it needeth;–and ever shall be as long as it needeth. And evermore it floweth in all Heavens enjoying the salvation of all mankind, that are there, and shall be…

There is a good deal more in Julian worth reflecting on, which I will get to in another post.  What Julian is most known for is the phrase “All shall be well”.  In a moment of doubt, she clung to the fact that one day all things shall be well.

That itself is a good reminder for us in the midst of our lives.

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