Julian’s 12th showing & 13 part 1.

Background              

Chapter 26

The twelfth Revelation is that the Lord our God is al sovereyn beyng. Twenty-sixth chapter.

Then our Lord showed Himself
more glorified to my sight than before.
This taught me our soul shall never have rest
until it comes to Him,
knowing He is fullness of joy,
homely and courteously blissful,
and truly life.

Our Lord Jesus often said,
I AM, I AM,
I AM that that is highest,
I AM that that you love,
I AM that that delights you,
I AM that that you serve,
I AM that that you long for,
I AM that that you desire,
I AM that that gives you meaning,
I AM all that is,
I AM that that Holy Church preaches and teaches you,
I AM that that showed me here to you.

Because of the uses of inversion in Middle English,
this can equally be read as:

I AM, I AM,
I AM that that is highest,
I AM that that loves you,
I AM that that delights in you,
I AM that that serves you,
I AM that that longs for you,
I AM that that desires you,
I AM that that gives you meaning,
I AM all that is,
I AM that that Holy Church preaches and teaches you,
I AM that that showed me here to you.

The number of the words passes my wit,
all my understanding and all my might,
and it is the highest, as to my sight.

For all the meaning in them,
– I cannot tell –
but the joy I saw in the showing of them
passes all the heart may wish and soul desire;
therefore the words are not declared here.
But every man, after the grace God gives him
in understanding and in love,
receives our Lords meaning in them.

Her 13th Sharing – part 1.

In this revelation, one of her longest, Julian treads a careful path. As I wrote in the Background these were dangerous times. The revelations she received during her illness appeared at times to stray from the teaching of the Church, particularly concerning Hell, Purgatory and damnation. How could this be reconciled by Christ’s assurance to her that ‘All manner of thing shall be well’? It was not only strict, inquisition-like suppression and punishment of heresy that she had to fear; in a world in which a quarter or more of the population had died in the Black Death there was strong secular fear with reprisals against any suspected of arousing God’s wrath. e.g. Pope Clement VI spoke out (without success) against the mass murder of Jews by the largely illiterate Christian population.

Chapter 27

The thirteenth Revelation is that our Lord God wil that we have grete regard to all His deds that He hav don in the gret noblyth of al things makyng and of etc; how synne is not knowin but by the peyn. Twenty-seventh chapter.

Then the Lord put in my mind
the longing I had for Him before.
And I saw nothing hindered me but sin,
and so I looked generally at us all.
And thought, if there had been no sin,
we should all have been clean
like our Lord as He made us.

So, before this time, in my folly
I had often wondered why,
in the great foreseeing wisdom of God,
the beginning of sin was not prevented.
For then I thought, all should have been well.
This distress was hard to abandon however;
I made mourning and sorrow of it
without reason and discretion.

But Jesus, in this vision taught me all I need,
and answered:
Sin is necessary,
but all shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.

In this naked word sin,
our Lord brought to my mind, all our failings,
and the shameful despite and utter contempt He suffered
for us in this life, and in His dying,
for all the pains and passions of all His creatures,
spiritual and and bodily – for we are all despised in part,
and we shall be despised for following our Master Jesus
till we be full cleansed,
that is to say, until we are fully freed from our mortal flesh
and all our inner failings –
and seeing this, with all the pains that ever were or shall be,
with all these I understand the passion of Christ
as the greatest pain surpassing all.

Yet all this was shown in a touch,
and readily passed into comfort.
For our good Lord would not frighten
my soul by this ugly sight.

But I did not see sin,
for I believe it has no substance
nor any part of being,
nor can it be be known, but by the pain it causes.
Pain, as I see it, is something for a time,
for it purges us and makes us know ourself
and ask mercy.

For our Lord’s passion is comfort to us
against all this, so is His blessed will.
And for the tender love our good Lord has
to all that shall be saved,
He comforts readily and sweetly,
meaning this:
It is true that sin is the cause of all this pain,
but all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner thing shall be well.

These words were said full tenderly,
showing no manner of blame to me
or to any that shall be saved.
So it were a great unkindness
to blame or wonder at God for my sin,
since He does not blame me for sin.

And in these same words
I saw a marvellous, high secret hid in God,
which He shall make known to us openly in Heaven,
where we shall truly see why He let sin come,
in which sight we shall endlessly delight Him.

Chapter 28

How the children of salvation shal be shakyn in sorowis, but Criste enjoyth wyth compassion; and a remedye agayn tribulation. Twenty-eighth chapter.

Thus I saw how Christ has compassion on us
for the causes of sin.

And just as I was filled before
with pain and compassion for Christ’s passion,
so also in this I was filled in part
with compassion for all my fellow Christians,
for that well, well beloved people that shall be saved.
That is to say, God’s servants, Holy Church,
who shall be shaken in sorrows and anguish
and in tribulation in this world,
as men shake a cloth in the wind.

To this our Lord answered,
I shall make a great thing of this in Heaven,
of endless worship and everlasting joys.

Yes, I saw that our Lord delights so much in His servants,
in their tribulations, with pity and compassion
for each person He loves and longs to bring to His bliss.
He holds them in no blame in His sight,
though in this world they are blamed,
despised, scorned, abused, outcast.

He does this to lessen the harm they should have
from the pomp and vainglory of this wretched life,
and make their way ready to come to Heaven,
and raise them in His everlasting bliss.

For He says,
I shall break you from your vain affections,
and from your vicious pride,
then I shall gather you together,
making you mild and meek,
clean and holy,
as one with me.

Then I saw each kindred compassionate love,
that a man has for his fellow Christians
is Christ in him.

That same humiliation shown in His passion,
was shown again here in this compassion,
in which I saw two meanings.
One, the bliss that we are bought to,
in which He wills us to delight.

That other is for comfort in our pain.
For He wishes us to know it shall all be turned
to worship and profit by virtue of His passion;
and to know we do not suffer alone, but with Him,
and see in Him our ground.

We see His pains and His humiliation
pass so far beyond all we may suffer,
so far beyond all thought;
and seeing this will save us
from grudging despair in our pains.

If we truly see our sin deserves it,
yet His love excuses us;
in His great courtesy He removes all our blame,
and He holds us with sorrow and pity,
willing, innocent children.

Chapter 29

Adam synne was gretest, but the satisfaction for it is more plesyng to God than ever was the synne harmfull. Twenty-ninth chapter.

All this time I stayed watching everything
sadly mourning,
saying to our Lord in my mind
with a full great dread:
“Ah, good Lord, how might all be well
for the great hurt sin has done to your creatures?”

I dared to desire a more open teaching
so I might be eased in this.
Our blisfull Lord answered
most meekly, with full lovely cheer,
showing Adam’s sin as the greatest harm
that was ever, or ever shall be,
done until the world’s end.
And He showed that this is openly known
in Holy Church in all the earth.

He showed me the glorious atonement,
whose making is more pleasing to God
and more worshipful for man’s salvation,
without comparison,
than Adam’s sin was ever harmful.

In this teaching, it is our blessed Lord’s wish
that we should understand this:
Since I have made the greatest harm well,
then it is My will that you know
I shall make well all that is less.

Adam was originally not a name;
it came from Hebrew: ‘a-am-man’
a creature of the genus Man,
a species word not gender.
The male was hus-band-man: Husband-man,
bound to the hus or ham, the house or farm,
the heavy working gender of Man.

Woman came from wo-man, Short for wif-man,
the female of the species Man.
Hus-wif-man, the lighter weight female,
with the care and keeping of the hus or ham.

Living in small hunter-gatherer families,
each took the other’s role in emergency.

Human comes from humus : soil.

Chapter 30

Her thirteenth vision was difficult and dangerous.  In those horrific times in which up to a third of humanity died,  fear and suspicion were more infectious than the plague. Heresy was harshly and fataly punished, the harshest punishment inducing greater penitence,  was thought a merciful alternative to eternal damnation. It begins a series of visions which show doctrines of damnation, as held by the church of the day,  and by some today, in a completely different light – the light of God’s love for all mankind. It becomes increasingly plain that she treads a careful path between fears of heresy,  magnified as they were by the horrors of the Black Death and its aftermath, and her desire to speak faithfully of what she as seen.

How we shuld joye and trusten in our Savior Jesus not presumyng to know His privy counsell. Thirtieth chapter.

He gave me to understand two things:
the first, our Saviour and our salvation,
open and clear, fair, light and plenteous,
for all mankind of goodwill,
that are and shall be,
is understood in this first part.
In which we are bound to God,
drawn and counselled,
taught inwardly by the Holy Spirit,
outwardly by the Holy Church,
in the same grace.

Our Lord wishes us to know this first part,
delighting in Him for He delights in us.
The more plentifully we take to this
with reverence and meekness,
the more thanks we deserve from Him
and the more profit to ourselves,
in this way, may we say,
enjoying our part in our Lord.

The second part is hid and shut from us,
all except our salvation;
it is private to our Lord.
It is the right of God’s royal lordship
to have His private counsel in peace,
not for us to learn.
Our Lord has pity and compassion for us,
though some busy themselves therein greatly.
If we knew how much we would please Him by leaving it,
we would.

The saints in Heaven desire to know
no more than our Lord will show them.
Their love and desire is ruled by His will,
and as we are all alike in God’s sight
we should do likewise.
Then we shall wish and desire
nothing but our Lord’s will ,
as they do.

For we are all one in God’s mind.
And here was I taught that we shall trust
delighting only in our Saviour,
blissful Jesus, for everything.

Chapter 31
 
Off the longyng and the spiritual threst of Criste which lestyth and shall lesten til domys day. And be the reason of His body, He is not yet full gloryfyed ne al unpassible. Thirty-first chapter.
  

And thus our good Lord answered
all the questions and doubts I might make,
saying very comfortably,

I may make all things well,
I can make all thing well,
and I will make all things well,
and I shall make all things well,
and you shall see yourself that all manner of things shall be well.

When He says, I may,
I understand for the Father,
When He says, I can,
I understand it as the Son,
and when He says, I will,
I understand the Holy Spirit,
and when He says, I shall,
I understand three persons, one truth;
the unity of the blessed Trinity.
and where He says, You shall see yourself,
I understand all mankind that shall be saved,
united in the blissful Trinity.

And in these five sayings
God will be enfolded in rest and in peace,
and Christ’s spiritual thirst shall have an end.

For this is Christ’s spiritual thirst,
the love-longing that lasts, and ever shall,
until we see it on Doomsday.
For of us that shall be saved
and shall be Christ’s joy and His bliss,
some are now here, some are to come,
and so some shall be until that day.

This therefore is how I see His thirst:
a love, longing to have us all together,
whole in Him,
for His bliss.

For we are not as fully whole in Him now
as we shall be then.
For we know in our faith,
and in all I was shown,
that Jesus Christ is both God and man.

Concerning His Godhead,
in Him is highest bliss,
from beyond the beginning,
and beyond the end;
endless bliss that can neither be increased
nor lessened in itself.

This was seen fully in every showing,
particularly the twelfth, where He said,
I am that that is highest.

Concerning Christ’s manhood,
it is known in our faith, and was shown to me,
that He, for love, with the virtue of Godhead,
suffered pains and passions and died,
to bring us to His bliss,

And these are the works of Christ’s manhood
in which He delights,
and which He showed in the ninth Revelation,
where He said,
It is a joy, a bliss, an endless liking to me that ever I suffered passion for you.

And this is the bliss of Christ’s works,
this is what He means,
where He says in this showing,
we are His bliss, we are His reward,
we are His worship, we are His crown.

For as Christ is our head,
He is glorified, and cannot suffer pain,
yet His in His earthly body,
in which all His members are knit,
He is not yet fully glorified or incapable of pain.

For that desire and thirst
He had upon the Cross,
which, as I saw, was in Him
from outside the beginning,
He still has, and shall have,
until the last soul to be saved
comes to His bliss.

For as in God there is true sorrow
and true pity,
so there is in Him
true thirst and longing.

Because of Christ’s longing for us
we must long for Him in return,
without this longing none of us finds Heaven.

This longing and thirst
come from God’s endless goodness,
just as pity comes from His endless goodness.

But longing and pity are separate properties.
And the point of the spiritual thirst stands in this:
it lasts in Him as long as we need it,
drawing us to His bliss.

All this was seen in His showing of compassion
that shall last until Doomsday,.
He has pity and compassion for us,
and longs to have us,
but in His wisdom and love
will not let the end come
until the best time.

Chapter 32

How al thyng shal be wele and Scripture fulfillid, and we must stedfastly holdyn us in the faith of Holy Chirch as is Crists wille. Thirty-second chapter.

One time our good Lord said,
All things shall be well,
and another time He said,
You shall see yourself that all manner of things shall be well.

And in these two, the soul understood more than one meaning.
One was this:
He wishes us to know He not only heeds noble things and great,
but also to little and to small,
to low and to simple,
to one and to another.

And so He meant when He said,
All manner of things shall be well.
He wants us to know the least thing shall not be forgotten.

Another meaning is this:
we see such evil deeds done
and such great harms taken,
that a good end seems impossible.
We look on this, sorrowing and mourning,
unable to rest as we should,
or blissfully behold God.

And the cause is this,
our reason is now so blind, low and simple,
we cannot know that high, marvellous wisdom,
the might and goodness of the blissful Trinity.
This is what He means, where He says,
You shall see yourself, that all manner of thing shall be well
as if He had said,
“Take heed now, faithfully and trustfully,
and at the last end you shall see it
in true fulness of joy.”

And thus in these same five words above,
I may make all things well,
I can make all thing well,
and I will make all things well,
and I shall make all things well,
and you shall see yourself that all manner of things shall be well.
I understand the mighty comfort
of all our Lord God’s works that are to come.

I see, in the last day,
the blissful Trinity shall do a deed
and when the deed shall be
and how it shall be done,
is unknown to all creatures under Christ,
and shall be, until it is done.

He wishes us more eased in our soul,
at peace in love, undisturbed by storms
that might stop us truly enjoying Him.
This great deed was ordained by our Lord God,
from beyond beginning,
treasured and hid in His blessed breast,
only known to Himself,
by which He shall make all things well.

As the blessed Trinity made all things of naught,
so the blessed Trinity shall make well
all that is not well.

And at this sight I marvelled greatly
and saw our faith, marvelling thus:
Our faith is grounded in God’s word,
and it belongs to our faith to believe
God’s word shall be kept in all things.

Yet one point of our faith is this
that many creatures shall be condemned
like angels that fell from Heaven for pride
and are now fiends,
and many in Earth that die
outside the faith of Holy Church,
that is to say heathen men,
and many that have received Christianity
but live unchristian lives,
and so die outside charity
– all these shall be damned to Hell without end,
as Holy Church teaches me to believe.

This being so, I thought it impossible
that all manner of thing should be well
as our Lord had said.
To this I had no other answer but this:
That which is impossible to you is not impossible to Me.
I shall keep My word in all things, and I shall make all things well.

Thus I was taught by God’s grace
to hold, steadfastly, the faith
that I had already received,
and that I should firmly believe,
that, as our Lord had said,
all shall be well.

For this is the great deed our Lord shall do,
in which He shall keep His word in all things,
and He shall make well all that is not well.
How it shall be done no creature under Christ knows,
nor shall know it, until it is done.

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.

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.

Saturnalia

‘During my week the serious is barred,
no business allowed,
drinking and being drunk,
noise and games and dice,
appointing of kings,
feasting of slaves,
singing naked, clapping of tremulous hands
and the occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water.’
–           Cronos, in ‘Saturnalia’ by Lucia of Samosata, 167-175 AD.

When curtained night is closest drawn
and daylight hours are short,
the Yuletide solstice warns of frost
and summer days are long since lost,
and gloves and scarves are bought.

When autumn’s leaves are blown away,
when longest night means shortest day,
and winter deepens, cold and grey,
and dark clouds veil the dawn,
then, in our coldest, darkest times
we light our days with song;
our glasses raise among the show
of holly, fir and mistletoe,
to cheer the days along.

And did you see our seedtime feast?
and in those measures hide your yeast,
and see the harvest grain increase,
and wine-press autumn’s later lease,
a glowing, golden song?

Saturnalia’s grinning orgy,
the High Lord of Misrule,
the prancing, dancing Feast of Fools,
our mingling right and wrong?

Our pagan village feasts and fétes
that close-pursed lips and high-held hates
see as our faults and so mistakes
the courage in our song?

And did you see our courage then?
your children singing in the dark?
And did you give your heart to them
who loved the One they did not know;
and bowed to You they could not see
and gave another name to You?

Did you not know Me then,
my children, singing in the dark?
I who made your solstices, your moons,
who threw the wheeling stars,
the tides, the seasons, day and night.

You who sang the seasons,
named turning stars and constellations,
saw life’s spring and summer,
its autumn and its winter
the zodiac in life’s zoè,
its seedtime, its harvest,
did you not know Me then
and give me many names?

I AM your Father, I AM Mother,
your Sister, your Brother;
I AM Love and I AM laughter.
When My erring son or daughter
turns away and strays to danger.
Though I grieve and there is anger.
Yet in Me there is no turning,
no wrath nor fierce burning,
simply longing and a yearning
watching for My child’s returning.

Though you nailed me to a tree,
from death I’ve broken free,
and follow you through hell
to bring you home.

 

Emmanuel – God of Emotions

I was  given this poem by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.  Its author expresses, with great sensitivity, the most dearly held feelings about God and His love.

Emmanuel
“God with us”

God is the God of emotions
He…
Laughs when we laugh
Cries when we cry
Hurts when we hurt
He feels the pain
…and the joy

Because of this there is;
Light in the darkness
Joy amongst the sadness
Healing in pain and brokeness

“We have this treasure in jars of clay”
(2 Corinthians, 4:7)
Here is an invitation to have immense hope

Emmanuel
“God with us”

Made in the Image

Cneius Pompeius was the first of our countrymen to subdue the Jews. Availing himself of the right of conquest, he entered the temple. Thus it became commonly known that the place stood empty with no similitude of gods within, and that the shrine had nothing to reveal.
Tacitus, Histories, Book 5, chap. 9

When Cneius Pompeius entered as conqueror
into the Holy of Holies, did he find nothing there?
No Godlike image? No fragment of wonder?
no token of the invisible God?
an empty room?

Did nothing in that empty, holy shrine,
ask the great question of our common daily tasks,
those shared hopes of yours, and mine, and his;
the great perhaps that there might be
something there that speaks beyond desire,
beyond you, beyond me, beyond him,
that knew his name?

No ark, no cherubim, no tablets of the Law,
hidden or lost since that first temple,
destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar
half a thousand years before?
Did holiness remain?
or any thing?

No ark, no cherubim, no tablets of the Law,
Was that image in the seige-towers?
The battering rams?
the hand to hand facing with the enemy?

And were his gods in the victory parade,
passing like a sword through vanquished, sullen-lined streets?
Or in the holy place beyond the double veil?
The Holy of Holies of the only God of this strange race?

Pompey returned to his daily soldier round,
to his home’s embrace, his wife, his children,
and was His image there?
Did he recall in the empty shrine
that image of God seen there,
in himself,
and in the little things of home?

Two thousand years have passed, and more,
since Pompey came as conqueror
into the Holy of Holies.
Did he find nothing there?
No Godlike image? No fragment of wonder?
no token of the invisible God that asks,
as we are asked now,
in our homes, our daily tasks,
our homely shrines, where we,
wives, husbands, children,
each made in the image of God –
are asked to see,
and love and be loved.

Why do we bicker, in and with His image,
with weapons forged of words,
of sighs and glaring eyes,
with those whom we should love?
How, faced daily with His image,
should we do anything but love?

The Debate Of The Gaps

Can science explain faith? Perhaps, but ‘explaining’ must not be misinterpreted as ‘explaining away’. In the debate between science and religion the debaters are often separated into those discussing how we exist and those discussing why. Sometimes the religious argument is described as plugging holes that science has not yet explained – a retreating ‘God of the gaps’, but this is reversible. There are gaps on both sides. We can too easily treat the discussion as ‘either/or’.

There is a move away from the ‘God of the gaps’ to an equally erroneous ‘science of the gaps’ such as the apparent counter to Big Bang Creation theology by multiverse theories which avoid a single creation moment by postulating an infinite supply of them; or the infinite-finite source of Hartle-Hawking space which does the same by making the creation moment unattainable. It is easy to point out that neither answer the ‘why is there something rather than nothing’ question, but nor does religion. Both skate round an unknown centre.

There is neither a God of the gaps nor a science of the gaps. They are two views of the same whole.

Even if we could remove the need for God it would not necessarily remove our desire for Him. Lovers do not need each other, they want each other. Richard Leonard touches on this in ‘What Are We Doing on Earth for Christ’s Sake?’, describing a friend struggling with some religious work or duty suddenly feeling the peace of knowing God did not need him but simply loved him. If he died or did not finish, someone else could do it. Although God loved him doing it He did not need him.

Removing the need does not remove the love or the lover.