NB: This post is from May 2014, and is one in a series of discernment posts I’m going to be sharing with you over the next several weeks. Enjoy!
In the Lutheran Church and Anglican Communion, Thursday is the feast day of St. Julian of Norwich. I include one of her significant ideas/visions for contemplation:
“He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and I thought, ‘What can this be?’ And answer came. ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled that it could last, for I thought it might have crumbled to nothing, it was so small. And the answer came into my mind. ‘It lasts and ever shall because God loves it.’ And all things have being through the love of God.”
– Revelations of Love –
While Julian (named for the church in which she became an enclosed anchorite—we do not know her given name) is most famous for her quotation, “And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” I have always found the paragraph above more compelling.
The idea of the round universe, the creation, all that has been made, in the palm of one’s hand… The idea of a universe maintained in Love… These are great images. Especially coming from plague-stricken, fourteenth-century England.
Her words also call to mind the round Earth of which we are a part and her “Love,” if you will. And moreover, how we seem to be chipping assiduously away at the hand that holds us and our habitat in being. It is not our habitat that will ultimately die. Earth will have the last word. Love for all beings will have the last word. But our turning away from love, from responsibility, may be the last word for us.
Julian’s hazelnut Creation makes me think of the liberal theologian Schleiermacher, and his word, gefühl. This word means a powerful feeling, a deep reverence. And for Schleiermacher, it came to mean a sense of complete dependence on God. Not just that our lives rely on God in some emotional or psychological way, but that everything, everything, everything is held in being by One Thing. It’s much like Julian’s idea/revelation that all things are held in being by Love. And like my own intimation of Love as the origin and circumference of the universe.
If you’re interested in more St. Julian stuff, go to www.julianweek.org. Julian week is a celebration of St. Julian and the era in which she lived. It’s on in May in Norwich in honor of her feast day!