Martin Luther King Jr. and Julian of Norwich on the Beloved Community

In yesterday’s DM we meditated on Julian’s insistence to grow up and celebrate differences and diversity and to put love first.  And how she recognized the universe as held together by love.  

“Julian of Norwich” by Ronaldo Tuazon. With permission of the artist.

Julian has a marvelous vision which she describes for us this way. 

God showed me in my palm a little thing round as a ball about the size of a hazelnut. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and asked myself: “What is this thing?” And I was answered: “It is everything that is created.” I wondered how it could survive, since it seemed so little it could suddenly disintegrate into nothing. The answer came: “It endures and ever will endure, because God loves it.” And so everything has being because of God’s love. 

A wonderful vision of the oneness of things! And also the fragility of our existence. I am reminded of the Voyager 1 journey through space and out of our galaxy and how, on looking back, it took a photo of its journey. What we see is a number of brightly lit points. Scientists point to one and say, “This is earth.” Our earth is fragile and special sitting so alone, a pinpoint of light in the deep realms of space.  It is easy to feel for it what Julian felt for the hazelnut in her hand.  

Short clip on the Voyager 1. Originally posted to YouTube by Primal Space.

Buddhist scholar and activist Joanna Macy, on seeing this passage in Julian, commented on how it is the perfect archetype for a hologram.  All in one and one in all.  

Julian sees a universe.  It is one being.  And we are, our earth is, an integral part of it.  It is kept together by love.

Dr. King is rightly famous for his concept of the beloved community.  Is Julian’s vision another way of talking about the “beloved community”? 

Original black & white negative by Marion S. Trikosko. Taken August 26th, 1964, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash.

The community, as Dr. King sees it, is something we have to work at, to strive for, to repair when things get broken.  But it is one; and it is a community; and it is beloved.  Love courses through it because it is loved and it passes on love.  Julian’s vision and her teaching about it is in complete accord with King’s vision.

Julian’s awareness, as when she tells us that “in God’s sight, all humanity is one person, and all people are a single humanity.” There is a universality in Christ “who embodies all humanity” for he “represents the spiritual yearning in us all. Christ is all spiritual seekers and all spiritual seekers are Christ.” And “God makes no distinction between the blessed Christ and the least soul among us.”

Here she is surely referencing the story of Matthew 25, in which Jesus proclaims: “Do it to the least of these, and you do it to me.”  This too provides the foundation for King’s beloved community.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 40f.

Banner Image: Snapshot of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D. C. Photo by Bee Calder on Unsplash.

Have you seen the pictures from Voyager 1 of its journey out of our galaxy?  What does it mean to you to hear Julian say that the whole universe endures because of God’s love?

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.

Upcoming Events

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2 thoughts on “Martin Luther King Jr. and Julian of Norwich on the Beloved Community”

  1. Avatar

    One evolving whole. Emerson’s OVERSOUL. Fox and Rohr’s COSMIC/UNIVERSAL CHRIST. Ya, personal energy affects the EVOLVING CONSCIOUSNESS (ONENESS) and in EVOLVING aren’t we really DEVOLVING to understand the SOURCE of GOD within and without?

  2. Avatar

    God’s Love is really the is the ONLY REALITY, isn’t it? Yet, how difficult it is for people to believe and trust that this is so! Especially when times are as bad as they are now . . . Although I think it would be difficult to find a time in all of history when things were only hunky-dory. As Julian also points out in great detail, that the “wellness and the woe” are part of it all . . . and the solution is to stay focused on the fact that we are loved beyond our wildest dreams, no matter what!
    I received this message a couple of years ago,during a challenging time:
    “I have loved you from all eternity
    From when I first breathed you
    And every moment since
    With Rapturous Joy,
    I Love You Still.”
    This, I felt, was not only for me, but for EVERYONE! And so it is . . .

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