Inauguration Day, Despair Banished, Hope Among Us

A new administration, committed to competence and caring, with leadership by a president-elect who is very experienced in national government and a vice president-elect who is for the first time a woman and person of color, suggests a turning of the page in American culture.  A sign of hope.

“Hey Philly, Biden Harris Won!” Philadelphia voters celebrate after Election Day. Photo by Dora C on Flickr.

Julian of Norwich, a champion of hope in a time of despair, warns us that while despair can hold us back, the via positiva and a recovery of the sense of the goodness and beauty in nature can awaken us from our inertia, acedia, and slumber and energize us anew. “Zeal,” says Aquinas, “comes from an intense experience of the beauty of things.”

Yes, the dark night and despair that haunt our species and country today can be a gift that leads to a breakthrough.

In this context we can see in Julian’s vision of the future not a naïve optimism or wishful thinking, but a deep call to action. Our wellness as a species and the wellness of the earth itself, along with all its amazing species, is relative to our waking up and doing the work.

“Capitol, January 6 2021” Photo by Blink O’fanaye on Flickr.

It is in this context that Julian’s vision for the future holds promise. So committed is Julian to a mantra of hope that she repeats it on many occasions with slight variations. God speaks to her:

It is necessary that sin should exist, but all will be well, and all will be well, and every manner of thing will be well.

Evil has raised its head time and again in our culture in forms of denial and lies and in the violent event of storming the national capital to disrupt a legal gathering committed to counting electoral votes on January 6, delivering injury to dozens and death to six and fear and anxiety to a nation.  Sin or missing the mark happens in history and we all have to be on the alert for it in ourselves and others. But the bottom line is not the bad news, but the good news that wellness will triumph, goodness will arise, and truth will redeem the falsehoods to which humans are prone. Is this wishful thinking?

Ana Hernandez’ song “All Shall Be Well,” based on texts from Julian of Norwich and Arundhati Roy. Uploaded to YouTube by Ana Hernandez & Fran McKendree – Topic

On another occasion Julian informs us:

Our good Lord answered all my questions and doubts by saying with full energy: ‘I can make all things well, I know how to make all things well, I desire to make all things well, I will make all things well, and you will see with your own eyes that every kind of thing will be well.’

She concludes that we should find peace in this teaching, since “God wants us to be enclosed in these words restfully and peacefully.”  From this peace and from our commitment to goodness, our best work lies ahead.  “Charged with the quality of reverence and loving awe, we turn ourselves with all our might toward action.”

A new inauguration can promise action coming from a place of reverence, goodness, and loving awe.  There, alongside our inner and outer work, lies hope. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 97-99,102.

Banner Image: Black Lives Matter Plaza, prepared for the Biden Inauguration. Photo by Victoria Pickering on Flickr.

Do you sense people eager to get to work charged with a quality of reverence and awe?  Are you one of these?

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

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1 thought on “Inauguration Day, Despair Banished, Hope Among Us”

  1. Avatar

    “Alongside our inner and outer work, lies hope.” Beautiful! This should be remembered and repeated as often as Julian’s quote, “all shall be well.”

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