Julian: Divine Wisdom, Christ and Divine Motherhood at Work

Julian recognizes the incarnation, what she calls the “leap of God” into human form and history, to be a deeply motherly act, an act of motherly mercy.  “God chose to become our Mother in all ways, humbly and tenderly cultivating the ground of his work in the womb of a maiden.  Our transcendent God, the glorious wisdom of the universe, empties himself into his earthy place and made himself entirely available through our own poor flesh.  In this form he himself offered the unconditional service and duties of motherhood.”  

Icon of Julian of Norwich. Artist unknown; from HolySpiritArt.

What constitutes the “service and duties” of motherhood?  Julian names three aspects to authentic mothering: “Being nearest to our own nature, the mother’s service is most immediate.  Being unconditionally loving, the mother’s service is most willing.  And being the truest thing there is, the mother’s service is most certain.  Only God could ever perform such duty.”

Julian is not sentimental about motherhood—she sees it as being about service, work, even duty.  “Whenever a human mother nurtures her child with all that is beautiful and good, it is God-the-Mother who is operating through her.”  Co-creation happens.  

A true mother protects her child with great tenderness.  “This is the nature of motherhood.”  She adapts her methods and relationship as the child grows, “but the love never changes.”  And when the child becomes more mature, she “develops his virtues and graces” and chastises his vices.  

It follows, she tells us, that “our life is grounded in our true Mother, Christ, endlessly guided by his foresight and Wisdom.” 


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 54f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Grandmother and granddaughter. Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

Recommended Reading

What does it mean to you and to our culture to recognize God as Mother, Christ as Mother, and Wisdom as the Divine Feminine alive in work and history and child rearing?  Do you agree that motherhood is most immediate, most willing and most certain?  How do we translate that to caring for Earth and her creatures in a time of pandemic and a time of climate change?

Queries for Contemplation

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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5 thoughts on “Julian: Divine Wisdom, Christ and Divine Motherhood at Work”

  1. Avatar

    Motherhood (also needs male involvement) is a blessing, which has often been looked down on for several decades (careers having priority). However, it is the most blessed & challenging occupation that is given to parents & grandparents. We need to spend time with our children and grandchildren to love, teach & guide them in their authentic being. Through love and care it provides a healthy, whole, & safe society, in ways that pay great dividends.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Karen, I have also seen the blessing and challenge that is being a parent and grandparent–because I am both. I see that as you say, I let career take priority for several decades, but I have learned as a grandparent to truly parent. Thank you so much for your comment and may God bless you !!!

  2. Avatar

    What it means to me, in recognizing the Motherhood of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit of the Divine Feminine, is not only the compassion spoken of in today’s DM, but also what I deem as a deeper expression of this, that being mercy. Mercy, for me, means actively doing something to alleviate the pain and suffering of another… and choosing to do so, knowing that we are indeed interdependent, one upon the other. I see mercy as the response to compassionately having shared in the pain and suffering of another on a deep soul level… not as serperate from oneself, but rather as apart of oneself. In and through this intimacey we are embraced in the Oneness of both the Motherhood and the Fatherhood of the Holy Spirit of Divine Love. Christ gives testimony to this potential reality that we are all invited to participate in, co-creatively manifesting this within ALL our relationships.

    Another aspect of the essence of the Divine Mother, is to nurture the inherent goodness and the beauty of this within ALL. Humanity has much to learn, regarding this aspect of the Divine Feminine… and in my personal experience, due to the oppression and suppression of this, through patriarchal misuse and abuse of power over… one must begin to learn to nurture and cultivate this inherent goodness and the beauty of this… first and foremost within one’s own intimate and unique relationship of companionship and mentoring friendship with the Divine Mother Herself… whom longing desires to teach us how to do so, in the wisdom of Her compassionate and merciful ways. This is part of the experience of being loved to love.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I am going to restate your comments in a briefer way to highlight what I see as most important. What it means to me, in recognizing the Motherhood of God, is not only the compassion spoken of in today’s DM, but also being mercy. Mercy, for me, means actively doing something to alleviate the pain and suffering of another. We are embraced in the Oneness of both the Motherhood and the Fatherhood of the Holy Spirit of Divine Love. Christ gives testimony to this potential reality that we are all invited to participate in, co-creatively manifesting this within ALL our relationships.

      Another aspect of the essence of the Divine Mother, is to nurture the inherent goodness and the beauty of this within ALL–here you are speaking of “Original Blessing” as Matthew has so truly taught. One must begin to learn to nurture and cultivate this inherent goodness and the beauty, first and foremost within one’s own intimate and unique relationship of companionship and mentoring friendship with the Divine Mother Herself… whom longing desires to teach us how to do so, in the wisdom of Her compassionate and merciful ways.

  3. Avatar

    Yes! Yes! To Matthew’s and Jeanette’s meditations on the Divine Mother-Divine Feminine-Body of Cosmic Christ-Holy Spirit of Divine Love-Wisdom in our daily human lives with one another and All Creation… We’re indeed daughters and sons of our Mother-Father God and Co-creators….

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