Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Listening with Julian of Norwich (Page 2 of 2)

September 14, 2016 — Jesus as Mother to us who believe

Julian is one of the earliest Christian writers who moves away from patriarchy and highlights images of Jesus as Mother to us who believe, much as Jesus refers to himself as a hen who gathers her chicks.

Today’s Bible reading

Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and throw stones in order to kill those who are sent to you. Many times I have wanted to gather your people together. I have wanted to be like a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. And you would not let me!  — Matthew 23:37

More thoughts for meditation

The mother may at times allow her child to fall and to learn the hard way, for its own benefit, but since she loves it so, she would never allow any real danger to threaten her child.  And although earthly mothers have been known to let their children die, our heavenly Mother Jesus would never allow us, his children, to perish, for he alone is all mighty, all wisdom, all love.  But often when we realize our faults and our wretchedness, we are so scared and filled with shame that we don’t know what to do.  Then our patient Mother doesn’t want us to run away, for nothing would please him less; but he then wishes us to behave just like a child. When a child is terrified and frightened, it runs to its mother as fast as it can; and if it can do nothing else, it yells out to her for help. With a child’s humility let us call out.  – Julian

Suggestions for action

Carry this thought with you all through your day:  He wishes us to behave just like a child.

Pray: Jesus, please mother me.

September 13, 2016 — Julian has a vision of how small we are and how cherished.


Today’s Bible reading  

 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed.  By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing. So on that day he rested from all his work.  God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. He blessed it because on that day he rested from all the work he had done.  —  Genesis 2:1-3

More thoughts for meditation

And God showed me a little thing, in the palm of my hand, round like a ball, no bigger than a hazelnut. I gazed at it, puzzling at what it might be. And God said to me, “It is all of creation.” I was amazed that it could last and did not suddenly disintegrate and all into nothingness, for it was so tiny. And again God spoke to me, “It lasts, both now and forever, because I cherish it.” And I understood that everything has its being owing to God’s care and love. We need to realize the insignificance of creation and see it for the emptiness it is before we can embrace the uncreated God in love. We will find no rest for our heart or spirit as long as we seek it in insignificant things which cannot satisfy us, rather than in God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and beneficent. He is our true repose. And he desires to be known and is pleased that we should rest in him. For nothing less than him can satisfy us.  We cannot rest until we are detached from all that is created. When we have done so for love of God who is all, only then are we able to enjoy spiritual rest. — Julian

Suggestions for action

Consider Julian’s image of the hazelnut that is cherished by God. What incidents in your life this week seem as small and insignificant as the tiny hazelnut? Sit with God’s gaze on such small things. Remind yourself of God’s love sustaining you.

Carry this thought with you: God is pleased that we should rest in him.

Pray:  Out of your goodness, O God, give me yourself for you are sufficient for me. I rest in you.

September 12, 2016 — Listening with Julian of Norwich


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.

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