Julian’s 1st Showing – part 1

Many of Julians ‘showings’, or visions, were short, but this first is longer and I have divided it

Chapter 4

“Here begynnith the first revelation of the pretious crownyng of Criste etc. in the first chapter, and how God fullfilleth the herrte with most joy, and of His greate meekenesse; and how the syght of the passion of Criste is sufficient strength ageyn all temptations of the fends, and of the gret excellency and mekenesse of the blissid Virgin Mary. The fourth chapter.”

In this moment suddenly
I saw the red blood trickle
from underneath the Garland,
as hot, and fresh, and plenteous,
as in His Passion when the thorns
pressed on His blessed head.

He who was both God and Man,
who suffered thus for me,
showed me this directly.
I knew, truly, mightily
and in that showing suddenly
the Trinity filled my heart.
I understood with greatest joy:
it shall be so in Heaven without end
to all that shall come there.

the Trinity is God:
God is Trinity;
the Trinity, our Maker, Keeper,
our everlasting love,
our everlasting joy and bliss,
in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In that First Showing, and in all:
wherever Jesus Christ appears,
I feel the blessed Trinity.

And with a mighty voice I cried,
said and meant for reverence
“Benedicite, Domine!”

I wondered and marvelled that He,
so reverend and awe-inspiring
would be so homely with me,
a sinful creature in wretched flesh.

Awe-inspiring: in the original the word used is “dredfull” but in Mediaeval English, dread implied awe rather than apprehensive fear.

This I took for my time of temptation,
for I thought God would have me tempted
by fiends before my death.

With this sight of the blessed passion,
with the Godhead I saw and understood,
knowing well it was strength enough for me,
yes, and to all creatures living,
against all fiends of Hell
and spiritual temptation.

Then He brought our blessed Lady to my mind.
I saw her ghostly, in bodily form,
a simple, meek maid,
young, and little waxen above a child,
in that stature she had
when she conceived with child.

And God showed me in part
the wisdom and truth of her soul.
I understood the reverence
with which she beheld her God, her maker,
marveling that He would be borne of her,
a simple creature of His making.

And this wisdom and truth,
knowing the greatness of her Maker
and the littleness of herself,
led her to say meekly to Gabriel,
“Lo, me, God’s hand-maid.”

In this I truly understood
that she is more than all that God has made
all else is beneath her
in worthiness and grace.
Above her, I could see,
nothing that is made
but the blessed manhood of Christ.

Chapter 5

“How God is to us everything that is gode, tenderly wrappand us; and all thing that is made, in regard to Almighty it is nothing; and how man hath no rest till he nowteth himselfe and all thing for the love of God. The fifth chapter.”

In this same time our Lord showed me
a spiritual sight of His homely love.
I saw He is to us all that is good,
and comfortable for us.

He is our clothing that wraps us in love,
embraces us and all encloses us
for tender love,
that He may never leave us.
I know He is all that is good to us.

In this He showed a little thing
the size of a hazel nut
in the palm of my hand,
round as a ball.

I looked at it, in the eye
of my understanding and thought,
What may this be?

The answer was all-inclusive:
It is all that is made.
I marvelled how it could last.
I thought it so little
it might suddenly fall to nothing.

And I was given to understand:
It lasts and always shall,
for God loves it;
so by God’s love everything has its being.

In this little thing I saw three properties:
God made it,
God loves it,
God keeps it.

But what my maker, my keeper,
and my lover, truly is
I cannot tell,
for till I am fully one with Him
I may never have full rest nor true bliss;
that is to say, till I am so joined to Him
that there is truly nothing made
between my God and me.

We need to know the littleness of creatures
and to count as nothing all things made,
so as to love and hold to God
that is unmade.

For this is why we are not all
in ease of heart and soul,
for we seek rest here in those things
that are so little,
in which there is no rest,
and do not know our God
who is almighty, all wise and all good;
for He is true rest.

God wishes to be known,
and likes us to find rest in Him.
For all that is less than Him
is less than enough for us.
This is why no soul has rest
till it sets at nothing all made things.

Whoever sets all aside for love,
to have Him that is all,
can only then have spiritual rest.

Our Lord God showed His full, great pleasure,
when a simple soul comes to Him
unadorned, plain and homely.

This is the kindred yearning of the soul
by the Holy Spirit’s touch,
as I understand this showing:
“God of Thy goodness, give me Thyself,
Thou art enough for me,
I may ask nothing that is less
that it may be my full worship to Thee.
If I ask anything less I remain wanting;
only in Thee do I have all.”

And these words are full and lovely to the soul,
touching, full, and close, to God’s will and goodness.
For His goodness includes all His creatures
and all His blessed works
surpassingly without end.

He is endlessly over all,
He has made us only for Himself
restored us by His blessed passion,
keeps us in His blessed love;
and all this by His goodness.

He is endlessly over all,
He has made us only for Himself
restored us by His blessed passion,
keeps us in His blessed love;
and all this by His goodness.

Chapter 6

How we shold pray; and of the gret tender love that our Lord hath to mannes soule, willing us to be occupyed in knowing and loveing of Him. The sixth chapter.

In the 14th century the words ‘of’, ‘off,’ and ‘from’  (or ‘fro’) were not yet fully differentiated. They were often used as different spellings of one another, even within the work of the same author. In the following chapter, I have used, particularly in her references to ‘praying of His goodness’, forms which seem to yield the most suitable understanding to us today.

This showing was made to teach our soul
to cleave wisely to God’s goodness.
Then, how we pray was brought to mind,
how for lack of understanding,
and knowledge of love,
we use so many ways.

I saw greater worship to God,
and truer delight,
if we pray in faith to Him for His goodness,
cleaving to it by His grace,
with true understanding,
held steadfast by love, that truest light,
than if we used all means the heart can think.

For if we use all these means,
it is too little,
and not full worship of God.
But if our prayer is wholly in His goodness,
then truly, nothing fails.

For as I shall say, this came to my mind:
when we pray to God for His holy flesh,
for His precious blood, His holy passion,
His dear and worthy death and wounds;
all the blessed kindness –
the eternal life we gain –
all this is His goodness.

And we pray to Him of His sweet mother’s love,
the love that bore Him,
and all the help we have of her,
all this is His goodness.

By prayer by the Holy Cross He died on,
the virtue gained, the help of His Cross,
is all from His goodness.

And on the same wise,
all the help we have of special saints
all the blessed company of Heaven,
the dear, worthy love,
the endless friendship we have of them,
it is all from His goodness.

God in His goodness has ordained,
full, fair and many means to help us;
of which the chief and principal
is His blessed kindred with us in the Maid,
with all the means before and after,
which belong to our redemption
and our eternal salvation.

So it pleases Him that we seek Him,
worshipping by many means;
but understanding and knowing
that He is the goodness of all.

For the goodness of God is the highest prayer
coming down to the lowest part of our need.

It quickens our soul
it brings it life,
makes it wax in grace and virtue.
It is our nearest kindred
and readiest in grace.

It is the grace the soul seeks, and ever shall,
till we know our God truly
that has us all enclosed in Himself.

For He does not despise His creature,
nor distains to serve the simplest office
belonging to our body in nature,
for love of the soul that He has made
in His own likness.

For as the body is clad in cloth,
the flesh in its skin,
the bones in the flesh,
and the heart in the breast,
so are we, soul and body,
clad in the goodness of God.

Enclosed, yes, and more homely,
for all these may waste and wear away,
but God’s goodness is ever whole,
nearer to us beyond any likeness;
for truly our lover desires our soul
to cleave to Him with all its might,
cleaving forevermore to His goodness.

For of all our heart might hope to do,
this pleases God most,
with quickest gain,
for our soul is so specially loved
by Him that is highest,
that it surpasses all creaturely knowledge.

There is no creature made
that may know how much,
how sweetly, and how tenderly
our Maker loves us.

So, with His grace and help,
our spirit may see, marvelling forever,
this high, surpassing, inestimable love
Almighty God has for us of His goodness.

So we may ask our lover with reverence
all that we wish.
For our natural desire is to have God
and God’s good desire is to have us,
and we may never stop willing,
nor longing,
untill we have Him in fullness of joy.
Then we may desire no more.

For He wishes us always
to be knowing and loving Him
until we shall be fulfilled in Heaven.
So this lesson of love was shown,
with all that follows, as you shall see,
for in this first showing
was shown the strength and ground of all.

Above everything,
beholding and loving its Maker
makes the soul seem least in its own sight,
filled with reverend awe and true meekness,
with great charity to his fellow Christians.

Part 2 of this first showing will follow in a few weeks.

Revelations of Love, Chapters 1-3

Julian’s introduction to what is to follow.

These first three chapters outline the whole book:

  • first, a summary of the chapters to follow (omitted for brevity).
  • second, how when younger, she prayed to share or understand more of Christ’s pains.
  • third, her  serious illness in 1373, in which, during receipt of the last rites, she received the ‘shewings’ or visions which occupy the rest of the book.

In fact she survived. The last record of her still living was in 1413.

What follows is far more than I originally intended. Two or three years ago I began a free verse précis of her book, promising completion in a few months, then a year. But I found such richness and compassion in her writing that the précis became a fuller translation and the timescale grew.

Although written in English it is that of the early middle ages. Spelling was elastic then, not only from writer to writer but within a writer’s own work, hence it is very much a translation into modern English. Fortunately I did not have to work from the original mediaeval alphabet or, worse, from handwritten originals. This has been done by far better writers than myself, particularly Georgia Ronan Crampton.

I have kept Julian’s chapter introductions in her Middle English wording in italic, but using our modern alphabet. Her book, as mentioned in an earlier post, was written in a dangerous and unforgiving age; a time of post- Black Death fear of heresy. The shewings should be read in order.

Revelations to one who could not read a letter. Anno Domini 1373.

A Particular of the Chapters, Of the tyme of these revelations, and how shee asked three petitions, and Of the sekenese opteyned of God be petition.

Chapter 1.

 A Particular of the Chapters. The first chapter, off the noumber of the Revelations particularly.

This is a Revelation of love that Jesus Christ, our endless bliss,
made in sixteen Showings or special Revelations.

I have omitted this chapter’s summary of her sixteen revelations as, in the light of the historical background in which they were written, they are better read in in order.

Chapter 2

The second chapter. Of the tyme of these revelations, and how shee asked three petitions.

These Revelations were shown to a simple unlettered creature in the year of our Lord 1373, the eighth day of May, which creature had desired previously, three gifts of God.

The first was to understand His passion.

The second was bodily sickness in youth at thirty years of age.

The third was to have God’s gift of three wounds.

As to the first gift,
I thought I had some feeling of Christ’s passion,
but desired more by God’s grace,
as though I were there with Mary Magdalen
and others that loved Christ;
desiring an actual sight
to know more of our Saviour’s physical pains,
our Lady’s compassion,
and of all His true lovers that saw them,
in that way I would be one of them
and suffer with Him.

I desired no other sight
nor showing of God
till my soul departed from my body,
so that by this showing alone
I should more truly understand Christ’s passion.

The second gift came to my mind with contrition,
freely desiring a sickness so deathly hard
that I might undergo all rites of Holy Church,
believing I was dying,
and that all that saw me might suppose the same,
for I would get no comfort from earthly life.

In this sickness I prayed to have
all manner of physical and spiritual pains
that I would feel if I were dying,
with all the dreads and tempests of the fiends,
except the outpassing of my soul.

By this I meant to be purged by God’s mercy,
afterward  to live more to His worship
because of that sickness;
and that it might speed my death,
for I desired to be soon with my God.

These two desires, the passion and the sickness,
I desired with a condition, saying,
“Lord, you know what I desire.
if it be Thy will, may I have it,
and if it be not Thy will,
good Lord, do not be displeased,
for I want nothing but Thy will.”

For the third gift, by the grace of God and the teaching of Holy Church,
I conceived a mighty desire to receive three wounds in my life:

the wound of full contrition,
the wound of kindred compassion,
and the wound of willfull longing for God.

And all this last petition I asked without any condition.

The first two desires passed from my mind,
but the third dwelt with me continually.

Chapter 3

Of the sekenese opteyned of God be petition. Third chapter.

When I was thirty and a half years old,
God sent me a bodily sickness
in which I lay three days and nights.
On the fourth I had rites of Holy Church
and did not expect to live till day;
but after this I languished
two days and two nights.

The third night I often thought I had passed,
as did they that were with me;
still young, I thought it great pity to die;
not for anything in earth
that might give me pleasure to live,
nor fear of any pain,
for I trusted in God in His mercy.

But to have lived to have loved God better
and for a longer time,
that I might have more knowledge and love
of God in the bliss of Heaven.

For I thought,
the time I had lived here was too slight,
too short to deserve that endless bliss.
It seemed nothing.

I thought,
“Good Lord, may the end of my life be Thy worship?”
And I understood by my reason,
by my feelings of pain,
that I should die,
and assented fully, with all the will of my heart,
to be at God’s mercy.

Thus I endured until day,
and by then my body was dead
with no feeling from the middle down.

Then I was stirred to be set upright,
and was leant back with help,
to have more freedom in my heart
to be at God’s will,
thinking on God while my life might last.

My curate was sent for to be at my end,
by the time he came my eyes were fixed
and I could not speak.

He set the cross before my face and said,
“I have brought the image
of thy maker and Saviour.
Look thereon and have comfort therewith.”

I thought I needed no comfort
for my eyes were set upward to Heaven
where by God’s mercy I trusted to come,
but I assented to set my eyes, if I could,
in the face of the Crucifix
and so I did,
thinking I might endure longer
looking ahead than right up.

After this my sight began to fail,
the chamber dark as night about me
except in the image of the Cross
which I saw by its own light,
I knew not how.

All beside the Cross was ugly to me
as if greatly occupied with fiends.

The rest of my body began to die.
I had scarcely any feeling,
with shortness of wind;
and believed I had truly died.

And in this, suddenly, all my pain was taken from me,
I was as hale, and sound in body as ever before.

I marvelled at this sudden change,
I thought it was God’s secret work
and not of nature,
yet feeling this ease
I trusted no more in living.

This ease was no full ease to me,
for I would rather be delivered from this world.

Then came suddenly to my mind
that I should desire the second wound
of our Lord’s gracious gift,
that my body might be fullfilled
with mind and feeling of His blessed passion,
I wanted His pains my pains with compassion,
and afterward to belong to God.

I desired neither bodily sight nor showing of God,
but compassion,
as a kindred soul might have with our Lord Jesus,
who for love became a mortal man.
I desired to suffer with Him.

Julian’s visions follow approximately monthly, interspersed with other posts.

It’s a Bleeding Blessing!!

I have always liked etymology.
(Etymology: Latin etymon
from ancient Greek, etumon, meaning truth
plus Greek –legein, a suffix meaning speak)
and yet its meaning is not speaking true,
but the study of the history of words.

The history of words is not always
as simple as the etymology
of the word etymology itself.
With time words and their meanings change and shift.
Words may remain while only meanings change;
words may remain while meanings grow and drift.

Blesséd are they that are poor in spirit,
for theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven.

Poor means today what it has always done
but blesséd, blest,
ah, there’s a word to run.

Often it has been said to mean happy
which seems to fit, a comfortable word,
(though comfort means to strengthen and give power;
In French comme forte is furnishing with strength)
but blest is more than simply being happy;
in French again blessure is to wound,
imblessure is a wound that bleeds.
Blé, meaning wheat in French is closely linked,
and came from bládh a growing blade of grass,
from which word blade we get the knife and sword,
blood shedders.
Bless also meant to blow as in the line,
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
from which we get blossom and bloom and bleed,
growing, swelling, welling words that promise more.
Farther back, the gallo-roman bladhais
was the growing harvest.

So deep within the happiness of blessing,
we have upwelling, and a blossoming,
the overflowing, fruition
of love.

Cosmos

Cosmos once meant order –
universe meant a single turning point.
We were bounded by the spheres,
the eternal turning stars,
where wanderers made their way alone,
bright Venus, dull red Mars,
and others that we named for gods.
– Cosmos once meant order.

Now we have found infinity,
like turmoil of a dream
of love and hope and yearning.
tossed in an unknown stream,
Galaxies, stars, planets, dust,
spread with wilder turning,
dark energy’s pull,
dark matter’s thrust,

Now in our infinity
all we see is just
a hundredth part or more
of a far darker shore.
Are we cast there alone,
faithless, hopeless, loveless, lost?

See.
Hear.
This vast turning sphere,
dark energy, dark matter and dark fear,
is smaller than a hazel in my hand.
A multiverse infinity of worlds
would be as hazel-small and sweet
as this round which my fingers curl.

And I so loved it that I entered
as My own Son to bring you life;
became your brother, servant, friend.
I, you thought so other,
so high above, so Godly-grand,
loved so much I died
at my lovers’ hand.

There is truth and turmoil in your dream,
the unseen dark, a flowing stream,
of love and loss.
Matter is energy, dark and light.
Those who love the light,
who believe in Me,
flow on to light.
Those who love the dark flow into dark,
lost in the passing of this age.
Yet I did not only come to earth to save,
I descended into hell,
and seek you there as well.

Creationtide

A couple of years ago I wrote a poem on the wonder of creation, All the Time in the World, and another on Creationtide, Saving the Earth. In that second poem I touched on a problem I have with our attitude to Creationtide; the following is not truly a poem, more a succession of thoughts:

The Cross is not a Hat Stand

Many things mean much to us,
they differ in degree
to different people,
to you,
to me:
world peace, poverty, politics,
care of the elderly, the sick,
social and family relations,
feminism, education,
prison welfare, crime prevention,

but the cross is not a stand
on which these hats can hang.
Yet we have turned Creationtide into ecologytide,
fueled by guilt or fear of global warming,

It should not be a time of guilt
for our misuse of the world God gave us,
but a time of wonder
of how God so loved the world
from In the beginning at the dawn of time
nearly fourteen billion years ago,
to Christ’s last words on the cross:
It is finished.

All that hung upon the cross was love,
the love of God, in Christ, for the world.
All that we can hang upon the cross
is our love in return,
for God, in Christ,
sent to give us eternal life.

The day will come when after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, that we will harness for God the energy of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.         Teilhard de Chardin

Ransom

This arose out of some emails I exchanged with someone I hold in great respect. Should you read this I apologise for not telling you first.

I have always struggled with the idea
of Christ being punished for us.
Many believe He was,
but it was punishment set by us,
not by God.

I cannot feel God saying,
‘Someone must pay for this.’
and Jesus replying, ‘Yes,
but I shall pay instead.’

Did Christ die for our sins?
take our punishment on Himself?
Did our Father send His only begotten Son,
begotten, not created,
beloved, pleasing, one in love with Him,
to die as a blood sacrifice,
as the Paschal Lamb,
for us?

We rejected and murdered Him,
but that is not why He came.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that all who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life.

I came that they might have life, and have it more fully.

Like Dame Julian of Norwich,
when I see Jesus Christ
I see the Trinity in Him,
God the Father
acting in His creation,
and in Love.

I see our Father in Jesus
showing the length that He will go
to show His love for us,
to suffer, in Christ, to save us.
As our Lord said,
I and the Father are one.

His suffering was more,
infinitely more, than crucifixion.
He loves us as his dear children,
eternally loving, not condemning
though we betrayed Him.

To bring damned sinners back
He went into the deepest hell
(which we made for ourselves,
bolting the door inside).

One day I shall write on my understanding of hell.
For now give it any meaning you wish.

What debt was paid upon the cross?
The amazing depth of love
in Jesus’ sacrifice
is more than any debt,
more than any price.

What debt was paid upon the cross?
The Aramaic Jesus spoke
had just one word for debt and sin,
and was guilt paid in pain?
Or was sin paid in death
to a wrathful, punishing God?

The Son of Man, the Son of God,
who prayed we may be one
as the Father and He are one,
suffered and died on the cross.
What ransom, what debt, was paid?
If He was not sacrificed for sin,
what debt, what ransom, was paid?

Because I live, you also will live.
In that day you will know
that I am in my Father,
and you in me,
and I in you.

Was our Father, in Christ on the cross,
a true lover grieving, bearing
anything for his beloved,
though we turned on Him murderously?

Is our debt that infinite love?
Was Christ’s crucifixion
not a ransom for our sins,
but a statement of that debt;
not cancelled on the cross
but rewritten in love,
which we owe in return.

Collar and Tie

I was challenged in my teens (long, long ago in the late nineteen-fifties, but still seems like yesterday) for wearing a sweater to church, ‘You would not turn up at work dressed like that so why do so in the house of God?’

As I was a student in London, and under my sweater was wearing a collar and tie. You might think I had a readily available answer but in those days even students wore jackets and ties to college. I gave a mildly apologetic response.

Things have changed since then.

Within ten years I had stopped wearing a tie to church; not from lack of respect but because I noticed that when strangers came into a service they often had open-necked shirts and looked self-consciously out of place. The presence of a few others similarly dressed gave them a chance to feel more at home.

Now things have changed even more; the wearing of ties has become rarer. For many, ties are not worn even for church. I find myself only wearing them on those autumn or winter days when a scarf might be too warm. One day perhaps I might sport a tie more regularly to ease the embarassement of strangers who come dressed in what they have seen in their only attendences at weddings and funerals – or will these also follow the current fashion?

There may be worse reasons for not dressing for church:

There is a story, a parable, of a king inviting guests to his son’s wedding feast
(which carries echoes of the King who invites guests to His Son’s wedding feast).

The kingdom of heaven is like a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He sent his slaves to call guests to the banquet,
but they would not come.

He sent other slaves, saying,
‘Tell those I invited,
“Look! The feast is ready.
My oxen and fatted cattle are slaughtered,
everything is ready.
Come to the banquet.” ’

But they were indifferent and went away,
one to his farm, one to his business.
The rest seized his slaves,
insolently mistreated or killed them.

The king was furious!
He sent soldiers to put those murderers to death
and set their city on fire.

He told his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready,
but those invited were unworthy.
Go into the main streets,
invite all you find to the banquet.’
They went out into the streets and gathered all they found,
filling the wedding hall with guests.

But when the king came
he saw a man not wearing wedding clothes.
He asked him,
‘Friend, how did you get in without wedding clothes?’
but he had nothing to say.
The king told his attendants,
‘Tie him hand and foot
throw him out into the darkness,
where there will be weeping and gnashing teeth!’

Many are called, but few are chosen.

Why was the guest thrown out for not wearing wedding clothes? Was he too poor? Probably – he had been called in off the street when the king’s rich friends turned their invitations down, but the king knew that and would have allowed for it. So why was he not wearing them?

He seems no better than the rich guests, disdainful of the king’s generosity. He came to eat but without bothering to wear the clothes provided. Rich or poor we can still get it wrong.

We have the King’s clothes to wear
for the wedding feast of His Son:
compassion, care, a held-out hand,
love and the acceptance of love,
the Image of God that God bestowed on Man.

Who is the bride?

The earliest account of Christ’s Great Commission,
translated literally from Mark’s Greek, is
When you have gone into all the world,
preach the Good News to all creation.

All creation is His bride,
over which as His hearers believed,
God set all Mankind to rule.

The true clothing of a ruler
is that of the Servant King:
compassion, care, a held-out hand,
love and the acceptance of love,
the Image of God that God bestowed on Man.