Wednesday, May 9, 2012

meeting Julian

I wish this post was about meeting my new grandson. But no, he has not yet arrived. Soon.

It is instead about my growing fascination with Julian of Norwich. Let me tell you how we met.

I'm one of those people who could spend hours looking at a dictionary, when I only picked it up to find the proper spelling of "broccoli" (is it two "c's" or two "l's?")or the right way to pronounce "aegis." I get distracted, quite easily. All of those lovely words, with their spellings, pronunciations and meanings! How delicious! So much to learn! Same for encyclopedias. Remember those? Whenever I referred to one, say to begin my social studies essay on the dwellings of the Navajo tribe, I was soon so caught up in reading about navigation and nativities that I forgot all about natives.

Then along came the internet.

You may have noticed that the internet has lots of interesting information on it. There is also a lot of highly disposable garbage, and way too many pictures of kittens and Tan Mom. But anyway. There is TOO MUCH THERE. For someone who likes to learn new things, and feels that every interaction, IRL or virtual, is fraught with meaning, this can be overwhelming.

So back to Julian.

Somebody somewhere someday posted something on the internet about her, and I saw it. It was a few months ago - maybe I was searching for information when my son chose this name for his son? - and I was drawn into articles about her writings. And then yesterday there she was again, in my Facebook newsfeed. For Lutherans and Anglicans, May 8 is her feast day. Unofficially, May 13 is when Catholics honor her. I really liked the icon of her with the cat, and so once again I googled and got sucked into the Great Encycopedia of the World Wide Web (does anyone call it that anymore?)

Blessed Julian of Norwich lived during the horrible years of the Black Plague, never left her "cell," and experienced visions of Jesus and Mary. We have ever so much in common, you can see why we are now besties! You can read more about her here or here, where I did and understood with certainty that this time, for real, I was coming across someone God put in my path for a reason.

Because you certainly have more important things to do, I'll just leave you with a few of her quotes that reminded me that no, I am not the first person to think of these things.

"He loves us and enjoys us, and so he wills that we love him and enjoy him, and firmly trust him; and all shall be well." (Her best known quote is usually worded thus: "All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well." She was an optimist.)

"Our soul rests in God its true peace, our soul stands in God its true strength, and is deep-rooted in God for endless love."

"He is our clothing. In his love he wraps and holds us. He enfolds us for love and will never let us go."

 "Flee to our Lord and we shall be comforted. Touch him and we shall be made clean. Cling to him and we shall be safe and sound from every kind of danger. For our courteous Lord wills that we should be at home with him as heart may think or soul may desire."

"Prayer fastens the soul to God, making it one with his will through the deep inward working of the Holy Spirit. So he says this, 'Pray inwardly, even though you feel no joy in it. For it does good, though you feel nothing, see nothing, yes, even though you think you cannot pray. For when you are dry and empty, sick and weak, your prayers please me, though there be little enough to please you. All believing prayer is precious in my sight.' God accepts the good-will and work of his servants, no matter how we feel." (This really speaks to me. I am a horrible pray-er. I have even been known to say I don't believe in the "power" of prayers of petition - at least not if we are looking for a "yes.")

And my current favorite, one I feel I can hang on to like a life raft these days: "He did not say 'You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted.' But he did say, 'You shall not be overcome.' God wants us to heed these words so that we shall always be strong in trust, both is sorrow and in joy."

So there it is. God loves us. He listens to our prayers. He wants the best for us.

And everything's going to be OK.