A little known fact about Julian of Norwich is that she was the first woman to write a book in English. Again I am astounded how a woman, an anchoress could influence the community and the world she lived in, especially in a male dominated society….. when she was incarcerated in a ‘cell’.
In her ‘cell’, or stone room, she had three windows where she encountered God.
The first window was where she received the sacraments, as the window looked directly into the church. The priest would visit her with the ‘daily office’, and she could observe the church in worship.
The second window was where she received Food and Water to maintain her existence and also where the carers removed her waste. She kept in fairly good health throughout her time in the cell .
The third window was where people from the local community came to seek her advice on matters which concerned them. She chatted to them and formed deep relationships with individuals. Her fame spread and was visited by many wealthy and poor people.
Remembering that this was the Middle ages , where the plague had ravaged families and death and disease were rife , Julian maintained that God was with them in there suffering . It was in this world of chaos, that she utters the words .. All shall be well, and all shall be … and all manner of things shall be well. This is in direct opposition to what the male priests were telling the parishioners; she stood her ground, as she had gained respect being an anchoress. The thought of God being close to people was a new concept, and Julian encouraged this as she shared her Theology , as God as Father, God as Mother , God as Creator and God Suffering just has she witnessed God’s people suffering.
This is even more remarkable, as although little is known about Julian (this is not her true name, but the name she took from the Church she attended ) she could have been a nun or a laywoman , maybe a widow who lost her child and husband to the Plague. She was extremely ill when she was 30yrs old, and it was when she recovered she wrote her book ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ , but her faith in God never wavered . She instilled Hope to people where suffering and pain was their constant companion.
Learning about Julian’s life again, has helped me reflect on ‘the windows’ I use to encounter God . The church to which I belong, the people care for me and support me, the friends and strangers I meet along life’s diverse path, the joys and sorrows that Life brings.
I hope I am bold enough to speak with authority about my faith as Julian did … to articulate my faith to encourage ,to challenge , to boldly go where many fear to tread .. and with God’s spirit as my companion.. all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
Let our God of Goodness be enough for you.
Ask for nothing less,
for if you ask for less than God
you will always be left wanting.
All shall be well
and all shall be well
and all manner of things shall be well.
(Julian: Revelations of Love)