Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title.
A SIMPLE MAID, GHOSTLY IN BODY AND APPEARANCE
Here begynnith the first revelation of the pretious crownyng of Criste etc. in the first chapter, and how God fullfilleth the herrte with most joy, and of His greate meekenesse; and how the syght of the passion of Criste is sufficient strength ageyn all temptations of the fends, and of the gret excellency and mekenesse of the blissid Virgin Mary. The fourth chapter.
In this soddenly I saw the rede blode trekelyn downe fro under the garlande hote and freisly and ryth plenteously , as it were in the time of His passion that the garlande of thornys was pressid on His blissid hede. Ryte so, both God and man, the same that sufferd much for me, I conceived treuly and mightily that it was Himselfe shewed it me without ony mene.
And in the same sheweing sodenly the Trinite fullfilled the herte most of joy; and so, I understood, it shall be in Hevyn withoute end to all that shall come there. For the Trinite is God, God is the Trinite. The Trinite is our maker and keeper, the Trinite is our everlasting lover, everlasting joy and blisse, be our lord Jesus Christ; and this was shewed in the first and in all, for where Jesus appereith the blissid Trinite is understood, as to my sight. And I said,”Benedicite, Domine.” This I said for reverence in my meneing with a mighty voice, and full gretly was astonyed for wonder and mervel that I had, that he that is so reverend and dredfull will be so homley with a synfull creture liveing in wretched flesh. This I tooke for the time of my temptation, for methowte by the sufferance of God I should be tempted of fends or I dyed. With this sight of the blissid passion, with the Godhede that I saw in myne understonding, I knew wele that it was strength enow to me, ya, and to all creturers leving, ageyn all the fends of Hell and ghostly temptation.
In this He browght our blissid Lady to my understondyng. I saw hir ghostly in bodily likeness, a simple mayde and meke, young of age and little waxen above a child, in the stature that she was wan she conceived with child. Also God shewid in party the wisedam and the trueth of hir soule, wherein I understood the reverend beholding that she beheld hir God and maker mervelyng with greate reverence that He would be born of hir that was a simple creature of His makeyng. And this wisdam and trueth, knowyng the greteness of hir maker and the littlehede of hirselfe, that is made, caused hir sey full mekely to Gabriel, “Lo, me, Gods handmayd.” In this sight I understoode sothly that she is mare than all that God made beneath hir in worthyness and grace. For aboven hir is nothing that is made but the blissid manhood of Criste, as to my sight.
Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416) is one of those remarkable women whose immense intelligence and learning enabled her voice to be heard above the all pervasive misogynistic babble filling the medieval mind. She claims she was a poor, unlettered woman, but she has gifted us the first book of just about any sort we have in English; the Shewings of Julian of Norwich was apparently written, or dictated by her while on her presumed deathbed when aged about 33 years of age. Thankfully, she survived this near calamity, and so have her wondrous visions, which allow us to glimpse inside a philosophically highly sophisticated and intelligent mind. Julian is rightly famous for not only speaking about Christ as our Mother, but all three members of the Holy Trinity as our Mother: in saying this she does not hold any official capacity in the Church, but merely as an ordinary believer (albeit as a holy anchorite) talking to other ordinary followers of Christ. For her, faith is protection and spiritual sustenance within the warm, maternal embrace of God and Christ the Mother. She introduces herself modestly as a “Simple unlettered creature,” but even if she lacked her letters, her mind was sharper than a cut throat razor, as it effortlessly sliced it`s way through the most complicated theological and philosophical arguments without a single false step.
The Shewings we now gratefully have, come down to us in two versions; the shorter, more immediate experience of spiritual rapture hot from the “death bed” as it were, and a second, much longer version, the fruit of some twenty years of pondering on the original verbal outpouring. For Julian, all things will be made well if we seek out and believe in Jesus. No doubt for many, the concept of God being a feminine deity will come as shocking, but the Abrahamic religions boast a long tradition of pushing women onto the back burner, as if they are lesser creatures unworthy of the full glory of God`s tender loving care. Despite the Christian Church devoting centuries air brushing women out of the picture, Jesus was not a misogynist, and valued women on an equal footing; perhaps, in the case of the Magdalene, above even his male disciples. Any religious tradition which devalues any sector of it`s community and denies it full spiritual, physical and intellectual membership, is not worth a full pinch of salt. Julian lived in an age when, as an anchorite, her words were considered pearls of holy wisdom to be listened to with all due reverence and respect; but if anyone in the venal, verminous outside world were to pronounce that Christ was their Mother, they would probably have received an invite to appear before an inquisitorial panel of theologians to explain themselves, and given the opportunity to reconsider their argument. God was male, men held temporal and spiritual power and dictated the rules; end of story. Julian believed that our souls were knit to Jesus at the time he came into his mother`s womb, embracing us within himself and becoming the perfect man; thus we were all made at once, making Jesus the mother of our soul and flesh, and because God loved us before time, Jesus has merely restored to humanity our substance and sensuality, thus making us perfect.
And I understode non heyer stature in this life than childhode in febilness and feyleing of myte and of witte into the tyme that our gracious Moder hath browte us up to our Faders bliss. And then shall it verily be made knowen to us His menyng in these swete words wher He seith, “Al, shall be wele, and thou shalt sen thyselfe that al maner thyng shal ben wele.” And than shal the bliss of our Moder in Criste be new to begynnand. Thus I understode that al His blissid children which ben comen out of Him be kinde shall be bowte ageyn into Him be grace.
Being a hyper intelligent woman, Julian never ceased to ask questions: this was something discouraged in most women, but as we have seen, Julian was one of those rare exceptions to the rule, and in her case, curiosity certainly didn`t kill the cat; in fact it merely engaged her mind even further into spiritual inquiry. So let`s leave this remarkable women in the company of her own words which are as good as any I can think of to live a good life.
I was taught that Love is our Lord`s meaning. And I saw very certainly in this and in everything that before God made us He loved us…..which love was never abated and never will be. And in this Love He has done all His works, and in this Love, He has made all things profitable to us, and in this Love our life is ever lasting. In our creation we had beginning, but the Love in which He created us was in Him from without beginning. In this love we have our beginning, and all this shall we see in God without end.
Language and good literature are like fine wine upon the lips. I cannot imagine a life without the written word. It`s the music which keeps the orchestra in my head playing on an endless loop of pleasure. Give me a book to read, and I`m as happy as a French man who has invented a pair of self removing trousers. View all posts by marlovian