Julian on the Spiritual Practice of Seeking out Goodness

For my part, the inaugural festivities of yesterday did not disappoint.  I recall many years ago, when I was in my early twenties and JFK was president, a wise Dominican priest said to me one day: “I just feel better getting up and going to work in the morning knowing that John Kennedy is in the White House.” 

President Joe Biden taking the oath of office, January 20, 2021. His inaugural speech focused on unity and healing the wounds of the nation. Photo from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies on Wikimedia Commons.

I have thought of that statement frequently the past four years when, getting up in the morning, I had to strain to feel better knowing that a serial liar and backer of white supremacists was in the White House with a white supremacist, Steven Miller, parked in the west wing, his salary being paid by my taxes.

Hearing the new president yesterday, I felt that a search for goodness was on the agenda again from our political leaders, including a search for truth, justice and the common good.

Julian of Norwich and her vision of the hazelnut. Iconographer unknown.

As we have seen, goodness and the search for it lies at the heart of Julian’s teaching.  She offers us at least 15 teachings about Goodness, Joy, and Awe. 

Some people complain that the West has few spiritual practices compared to the East.  I disagree.  Both lineages have much to offer and we need both today.  Julian offers us the practice of looking for goodness. A summary of her teachings follows.


Fall in love with the world, in spite of history.

Remember what a blessing it is to be here in an amazing universe on an amazing planet after an amazing journey of 13.8 billion years. See the bigger picture.

“When the Clouds Broke” Photo by Alfred Aloushy on Unsplash

Drink in goodness. And remember: “The first good thing is the goodness of nature.”

Do not become “too blind to comprehend the wondrous wisdom of God, too limited to grasp the power and goodness” of what is being revealed to us daily.

“God is the same thing as nature,” and God is “the very essence of nature.” Dwell on that.

“The goodness in nature is God.”

“Delight.” Photo by Jonathan Borbora on Unsplash.

God is “unending goodness” and an “endless goodness.”

God undergoes “supreme delights” and “five supreme joys” in particular that he/she “wants us to rejoice in also.”

We are all born into a “birthright of never-ending joy.”

 Healthy self-love is vital, and all we encounter in creation is “everything that God loves” also.

 “To behold God in all things is to live in complete joy.”

 Our work (inner and outer) is holy. “Dig and ditch, toil and sweat” to “make sweet floods to run and noble and abundant fruit to spring” in your soul and soil. Let this “food and drink” of your labor become your “true worship.”

“The Beekeepers.” Image by Michael Strobel from Pixabay

Value awe. The first duty of the soul is “to reverently marvel.” A “reverent awe is the proper response to the supreme beauty of the divine.”

 “This is the holiest prayer—the loving prayer of thanksgiving.”

 Thanksgiving leads to actions. “Charged with the quality of reverence and loving awe, we turn ourselves with all our might toward the actions” to which we are guided.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 101f., 20-33.

Banner Image: “Joyful Sunrise.” Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Do you see Julian’s teachings as spiritual practices and recognize yourself practicing them?

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.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

8 thoughts on “Julian on the Spiritual Practice of Seeking out Goodness”

  1. Avatar

    Matthew, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your reflections especially your mindfulness of your feelings at the inauguration of President Jo Biden
    What you share in that regard resounded within me. I held a fear of what he might do with the exploitation of the unbridled power that was at his finger tips. Somehow the prayer of many in many countries of the world has supported the people of America and the rest of the world from from sheer craziness. I have followed you and read many of your books over the years. Reflections on mystical life has fed my spirituality on many occasions. Thank you. Rosalie Conder.

  2. Avatar

    Mathew, I have read your book on Julian of Norwich’s teachings and life, over the past six weeks or so . . . And I can’t say I’ll ever stop reading it: I LOVE IT! I’ve written many of her sayings and teachings on paper that I bring to bed with me at night, just to go to sleep with her words resounding in my heart. Truly learning to live in and from the Joy of God’s tremendous Love is what life is all about, isn’t it! And how lovely it is to go for my daily walks and gaze upon God in nature all around.

    I have always been an admire of nature, from the time I was two years old, and asked my older sisters to prop me up on the big chair in the kitchen so I could spend all the time I wanted looking out the window at the splendid scenery that met my eyes: the rolling hills, the green grass going downhill to the gurgling brook below, the lovely tall trees, and the blue sky sometimes filled with dancing clouds. I started contemplating early!

    So thank you for writing your/her book, Matthew. I am lending it to a friend who, I think, will want his own copy, and spread the Good News around!
    God bless, and Namaste (which to me means: “the God in me HUGS the God in you!”

  3. Avatar

    Brilliant Matthew…..”a search for goodness is now on the agenda”. Spent yesterday in tears of joy and thankfulness. I had been so troubled since January 6 but this morning, woke with joy and hope! Thank you God and thank you Matthew.

  4. Avatar

    Greetings Rev. Fox from Yellowknife, Canada and Happy New Year to All: Let’s hope the era of Trump is now over and those who voted for him will come around to see reason. I suspect many voted for Trump hoping he would “drain the swamp” but the swamp simply got more polluted. Let’s pray Biden and Harris will bring hope and healing and restore peaceful, cordial international relations (not to mention, tackle the pandemic, climate change and ensuing economic problems). My query is; I was wondering if there is a “Jungian Shadow side” to feminism (not the Divine Feminine which is positive). Can you comment?

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: