Julian was an anchoress who lived in rooms attached to the church of St. Julian in Norwich in the late fourteenth century. She is often pictured with a cat, so she had affection for creatures and felt pleasure in their company. She is the first woman writer in English whose work survives. She lived at the same time as Chaucer who wrote his famous, Canterbury Tales. There was turmoil in her world – the 100 Years War was raging and plague reoccurred in her city. Positioned by the main road in a busy port city, she would have had many visitors as she lived her life of prayer.
Julian was a mystic who recorded her experience with God in one work that she wrote in two versions. Known as the Showings or Revelations of Divine Love she describes visions she received in 1373. Twenty years later, she wrote an expanded version in which she reflects on the deeper meanings of these visions. She was wise to know that God had given her a great gift and she didn’t mind when she didn’t receive new visions, but instead pondered all that she had been given over years and years. She seems to have grown more confident in her experiences with God as she reviewed them over time. Hers is a very different vision of Christianity than the prevailing focus of her time on judgment. Julian emphasizes love and joy as most important in a godly life. This week in our Daily Prayer, we’re going to listen with Julian to the great wisdom she received from God and we’re going to try to listen, meditate, and take in all we can of her gifts. Perhaps you’ve encountered Julian before or perhaps this will be your brief introduction. She’s worthy of long consideration in prayer.
Today’s Bible readings
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. — 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8
More thoughts for meditation
Would you discern your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well. Love was his meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? For love.
Grasp hold of this and you will grow in deeper knowledge of love. But nothing else will you ever know—ever! — Julian
Suggestions for action
In the quiet, let this guide you: God is love.
Pray it. Write it. Repeat it with each breath. Carry it with you all through your day.
Pray: God is love. I live in love.