Having named the “five supreme joys” within Divinity, Julian tells us that “Christ wants us to rejoice in them, too.”
She recognizes three faces in Jesus—one is suffering, yet “glad and joyful”; another is of “empathy and compassion;”; and the third is joyful. But “the joyful face was shown more than the other two and continued the longest.”
She says “Jesus is true, lasting joy” who possesses a “loving face” that invites each of us to reconnect our “outer and inner” faces so that joy shines forth from us.
The divine joy calls all creation and all humans to joy. Julian invites us into the via positiva to rejoice, praise, thank, love, bless. She insists that “the fullness of joy is our birthright”—and it goes along “with intense yearning and unshakable trust.”
For Julian, we are born into a “birthright of never-ending joy.” She writes:
We will not take possession of our birthright of never-ending joy until we find ourselves fully gratified with God and all his actions and judgments, loving and nonviolent toward ourselves and toward all our fellow seekers and able to love everything God loves.
She offers guideposts to tapping into that birthright, including responding gratified with all that life offers us–the “well and the woe”– therefore; the via positiva and the via negativa; the light along with the darkness.
Another guidepost is learning to love oneself and be nonviolent toward ourselves and others; and loving all of creation as God loves all of creation. Here she is adapting Jesus’s teaching to “love others as oneself.” Healthy self-love is what we project onto others and into our relationships with others—and the “others” are all of creation—that is,“everything God loves.” These are the means to recognizing joy and staying in it no matter what circumstances we undergo.
For Julian, once we dwell on goodness in creation it affects our view of the world and fills us with joy. “To behold God in all things is to live in complete joy.” The “all things” of which she speaks includes difficult and trying things.
Eckhart says that “everything praises God. Darkness, privations, defects, evil too praise God and bless God.” Julian says that our joy can be “complete” when we find God in all things. Eckhart said the same when he declared that the sign that we have undergone breakthrough is that we see God in all things.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—and Beyond, pp. 25-29.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Dancing with bubbles, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Alex Alvarez on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you believe with Julian that “the fullness of Joy is our birthright?” 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.