Julian warns us that our “faulty reason” can often, and especially when times are rough, render us “too blind to comprehend the wondrous wisdom of God, too limited to grasp the power and goodness” of what is being revealed to us.
We must open up both our minds and hearts to recognize what is really around us, how much goodness surrounds us, and how much beauty. She calls us to recognize what she saw early in her vision—namely, that “life is short,” and we should drink deeply of its goodness while we can.
Julian identifies divinity with goodness when she declares:
God is all that is good. God has created all that is made. God loves all that he has created. And so anyone who, in loving God, loves all his fellow creatures loves all that is. All those who are on the spiritual path contain the whole of creation, and the Creator.
Why is that? “God is the same thing as nature.” Julian echoes twentieth-century poet Bill Everson, who says “most people experience God in nature or experience God not at all.”
We are to become hunter-gatherers after goodness. And love will follow.
The love that Julian advises us to remember and that accompanies our search for goodness is a cosmic love that is deeper than history; far deeper than journalism, it reaches down to being itself. Julian knew this. Neither a sentimental nor even a personalistic love is needed in times like ours so much as a love of creation, a love of being itself. A cosmic love.
This is borne out in an amazing vision she had, a vision commemorated in the cover to my book on Julian. Here is how she talks about that vision.
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.
The goodness in life can also be named beauty; nature; life itself; God. It is all that is and all that is is sacred.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 21f. 40.
Banner Image: “Earth and Moon from Mercury.” May 6, 2010 NASA image provided by the MESSENGER science team, NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
“God is the same thing as nature.” Do you agree? What follows from that?
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.