Living each moment

 

juliannorwich01 350Living each moment, even in Pandemic - hints from Julian of Norwich

As the weeks have turned into months and we now start to live with spikes and outbreaks of Covid19, have you noticed any change or development in your prayer? It is interesting to note that Julian’s often quoted  “All will be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well” is a great reminder of hope and trust at a time when things are not yet quite well!

Do you remember the beginning days of the pandemic? Our news was flooded continually with stories, images and information from various parts of the northern hemisphere. I find it interesting that now those countries have moved into another phase, Covid19 news no longer seems to dominate the media. Yet, it is now that we are experiencing the greatest numbers of new outbreaks worldwide and the WHO is calling for greater global solidarity to combat this pandemic. Is it because we are just tired of it all, or do we not have the same interest in the countries now affected in the southern hemisphere - one of which, Indonesia, is our nearest neighbour?

One thing seems to be clear. Covid19 is not going away anytime soon and so we now have to learn how to live with its presence in our world. Julian knew what it was like to live in similarly fearful times of uncertainty.

“Julian may never have been able to trace the exact moment when she knew everything in her world was forever different…All she remembered was that, suddenly, without warning, her childhood was torn apart…It came like a thief in the night, or a dark cloud that settled on their home and never really left. It was the plague, called by many the Great Pestilence, or the Great Mortality. It did not become known as “black” until the sixteenth century, or as the Black Death until the nineteenth century.” 1

The plague swept into Norwich in 1349. First it was just a rumour; then overnight, it was a rampage. Julian was 6 years old.2  We don’t know how Julian and her mother survived. Some 7000 people died in Norwich, half the population, and the city never regained its prestige as the second largest and most prosperous city in all of England.While childhood memories were no doubt fearful, Julian was to live through numerous waves of the pandemic during her lifetime. She never gave up on her faith in “a light that naturally flows from our Father God, our Mother Christ, and our good Lord, the Holy Spirit. They lead us through this passing life and into our endless day.”4

We might take heart in our own times from some advice she gives us in Chapter 10 of her Revelations. In this chapter she ponders a vision of the physical face of the crucifix. The vision is dim and so small that Julian wonders if it is even a vision at all. She comes to believe that it is and she learns from it that God loves it when we seek. “The Holy Spirit fills us with longing, and all we can do is seek, suffer, and surrender…..What pleases God is our continual search, fuelled by faith, hope, and love……Seeking is as good as finding.”5

Julian comes to understand that whether we are seeking or finding God, we honour God most through unconditional surrender. It is worth quoting how she also sees that it is God’s will that we strive for three things:

“The first is willingness. We must seek with diligence, without laziness, and, as much as possible and by his grace, gladly and joyfully, unencumbered by unreasonable sadness or useless depression.

The second is patience. We should be steadfast as we wait for God, secure in faith, secure in love, without grumbling or pushing against God, even if takes a whole lifetime, because the truth is this life is much shorter than we think.

Finally complete faith. We need to actively trust God, knowing that God is likely to appear suddenly and without warning, raining blessings upon all God’s lovers.”6

With such an attitude, I can imagine Julian praying these words from St Paul to the Phillipians:

The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything; but in every prayer and petition make your requests known to God with thanksgiving, and the peace of God which is beyond all understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Phil 4;7

In the weeks and months ahead, may we continue to see God in each moment with willingness, patience and complete faith. Then like Julian we might live

Trusting            All will be well

Being patient    All shall be well

And Giving thanks   All manner of things will be well.

 

mkv

Photo from Norwich Cathedral

 

  1. Veronica Mary Rolf, Julian’s Gospel: Illuminating the Life and Revelations of Julian of Norwich, Orbis Books, New York, 2013, p67.
  2. , 69.
  3. , 73.
  4. Mirabai Starr, Julian of Norwich – The Showings, A Contemporary Translation, Chapter 83, p220.
  5. , 27,28.
  6. , 28.