A Seasonal Gift from Julian of Norwich

An Invitation

The annual holiday season could be a time of “celebrating”…a time of moving outward and connecting with others. The annual winter season could be a time of “hibernating”…a time of moving inward and connecting with our selves.

If you resonate with that idea, here’s an invitation to explore deeply into the energies of both those “seasons,” while you’re being in-formed, this year, by an amazing woman.

Julian of Norwich (c. 8 November 1342–c. 1416)

Although her physical body lived and died seven centuries ago, Julian of Norwich is one of those ageless beings who come to this earth plane to deliver a timeless message—a message of the heart. It’s a message that glows with such a love light that it casts a radiance both before and after the historical period in which she came and went.

On the one hand, there’s something so ancient about Julian that she’s capable of expressing a consciousness predating her own era. For example, in her Great Prayer she’s speaking the words of fifth century BCE Celtic “paganism:”

“I arise today through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.”

On the other hand, there’s something so modern about Julian that she’s capable of expressing a “scientific” awareness very familiar to twenty-first century soul searchers.

“I saw God contained in a tiny particle, a point so infinitesimal it could barely be seen and yet it contained the origin and essence of all things. […] The point I saw was all reality, and it contained no separation from God or the love that sustains the world.”

Above all else, Julian’s message is relevant. And, because it’s essentially about service, what better time than now to receive it as her seasonal gift?

A Biographical Note

We know very little about Julian, including her last name. What we can surmise is that she was well educated for a woman of her times and that she was impacted by the events of a “calamitous fourteenth century,” replete with the Black Plague and other horrors.

What we can know is that shortly after reaching age 31, Julian had a near-death experience during which she received 16 revelations (she called them “showings”). Afterward, she desired only to experience and express the “bliss fulfilling God’s joy that flows through creation and …to look into the amazing Divine Goodness.” She had a stone cell built and attached to an outside wall of the local church. In that tiny space she lived as an anchoress for the remainder of her life. Through one small opening in the cell wall she both received assistance from and communicated with those who came seeking her advice and counsel.

A Timeless Message

On the surface, Julian’s message contains a considerable amount of doctrinal Christianity that becomes increasingly focused (especially in later scholarly editing) on ideas of “salvation” and “sin.” Yet beneath the surface (especially in her earliest known writings) there flows a powerful undercurrent that speaks of a loving Mother/Father God who is also Spirit and Essence. Here is a non-doctrinal message that makes sin less relevant than love in the relationship of humans with each other and with the Divine.

And within that context, there’s an immense teaching about service.

In her characteristic gentle and unassuming manner Julian presents the pivotal idea of the “glad giver.” In her words, the “glad giver has little regard for the thing that he gives, but all his desire and all his intent is to please and comfort him to whom he gives.”

The Spirit as a glad giver is Julian’s most eloquent message. She speaks about the indescribable, unlimited love shown by the Spirit in many renderings that include: “God does not hold back from a single aspect of Creation, nor does the Divine One disdain to serve us in the simplest and most ordinary ways” including in our digestion and other natural bodily functions. Thus the Spirit is in constant service to Its creation.

And Julian points out that there is no hardship in emulating God’s service to us. As glad givers, we realize that “…our natural will is to have God, and the good will of God is to have us.” In the context of modern soul searching, our service to others is Spirit expressing in us, then as us and through us. She tells us that “God is in humanity and God is in all, and so everything is united into a single Body.” By being in such service, says Julian, we have the added assurance that “God’s love creates in us such a unity that we cannot separate ourselves from each other.” There couldn’t be any clearer statement about the “why” and the “what” of our service.

Yet, as glad givers, we are also enjoined to serve ourselves. Julian teaches that the Spirit is repeatedly assuring us that “I am the One who makes you love; I am the One who makes you yearn for more; and I am the endless fulfillment of all true desires.” In a modern context, that “I-am” is the inherent and sacred power of Life, Light, Love and Law…the divine aspects of our own creative consciousness.

And, revealing an amazing modernity, Julian says: “the Divine Essence [is] the very substance from which we were created. Thus, I can see no difference between the Divine Essence and our own: all is God.” Within that awareness, we can joyfully know with Julian that in our lives, “nothing happens by accident or by chance, but by the foreseeing wisdom of God.

Thus, service from/to the Spirit, to each other, and to ourselves encompasses all of our reality. As Julian indicates, “…God’s goodness is […] a unity that lacks absolutely nothing. By realizing this, we can function within that consciousness and “achieve the truest form of prayer.

So, with Julian of Norwich to inspire us, we can live and we can pray with the assurance that our service is an expression of who we are as spiritual/human beings. And after accepting this “seasonal” gift, we can carry it, both inwardly and outwardly, into the months ahead (there are really “interesting times” awaiting!). And, Julian will be there to remind us that “all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Author’s note: To learn more about Julian of Norwich, consult the many articles on the internet. Two helpful books are Hazelnuts of Grace: Selections from Julian of Norwich, compiled by Ellyn Sanna from Revelations of Divine Love, 2012 and A Revelation of Divine Love: Dame Julian of Norwich, based on the British Museum Sloane Manuscript No. 2499, c. .AD 1650, a rendering by Walter William Melnyk, 2014.

For further historical reading, see Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.

Berenice Andrews is a shamanic teacher/healer and a regular contributor to this magazine. To explore the ideas presented above in greater detail, please refer to her articles in back issues of Transformation Magazine and to her book: Rebirthing Into Androgyny: Your Quest for Wholeness…And Afterward. If you are interested in becoming her student, see her website:  thestonecircleclassroom.com.

This entry was posted in Enlightenment. Bookmark the permalink.