So a big part of my delving into medieval women saints over the last few months has been reading about Julian of Norwich, and reading two versions of her book- the book she dictated to a friar, from visions received on the 13th of May, 1373, since she could neither read nor write. One is titled Revelation of Love (a new translation, published 1996), the other Revelations of Divine Love (with an imprimatur, and published in 1961 – and which is still largely in medieval English – eths and all).
Here is a paragraph and a bit more from her 49th Chapter: Our Life Is Grounded in Love, in the older English version: “Yet we shall not be blessedly secure in the possession of our endless joy, until we be wholly in peace and in love: that is to say, full pleased with God, and with all his works and with all his judgements; and loving and at peace with our self, and with our even-christian (fellow Christian), and with all that God loveth; as Love liketh. This is what God’s goodness doeth in us. Thus I saw that God is our very peace, and our sure Keeper when we be, ourselves, at unpeace. He continually worketh to bring us unto endless peace.”
“And when by the working of mercy and grace, we are made meek and mild, then are we full safe; suddenly is the soul oned to God, when it is truly peaced in the self: for in him is found no wrath.”
In the newer version, this chapter is titled: Julian returns to her conviction that there is no wrath in God.
This writing is clearly the work of an experienced mystic – one who has definitely been there, done that. And she sees through her Christian lens, as do the Sufi poet-mystics with their Muslim lens, the Buddhist and Hindu, pagan/shaman/Druid, Jewish and other belief systems through their fleshly inculturations – meaning that their bodies, minds and spirits are all involved in, permeated with, their beliefs.
Julian actually saw visions, as she lay dying (and then recovered). She saw the bleeding Christ die on the cross, describes his thirst, the changes in skin tone, the agonies, fairly clinically. She also experienced ghostly visions – spiritual visions and sayings directly imparted to the soul, and intellectual enlightenment – aha moments. She is easy to recognize as a mystic, and this information clearly comes from outside her conscious self.
I particularly am in love with her notion of being ‘oned to God’, which she refers to several times. Another sentence of ‘one-ing’: “I was not shown that the outer should draw the inner to assent; but that the inner draws the outer by grace, and both will be oned in bliss without end by the power of Christ: this was I shown.” (end of Chapter 19)
And yet, and yet….
This focus on pain, suffering, sacrifice, death. Being in love with death and dying. I am just less and less able to comprehend this negation of joy, of simple human pleasures. The idea that (god by whatever name/concept) benefits from, wants us to have these experiences – and particularly wants us to wait for happiness in the hereafter, no longer fits in my body/mind/spirit. As I put it crudely to myself – I cannot imagine anything more boring than spending 10,000 plus years singing God’s praise. Not a (god) I even want to consider.
I assume I will have an answer I can accept when I let go of this search. I wonder how much longer / how many more Wiki and book searches that will take. My brain is still unable to accept what is clearly the truth for so many folk.