Julian’s 14th Showing

Chapter 41

 The fourteenth Revelation is as afornseyd … It is impossible we shuld pray
for mercy and want it; and how God will we alway pray thow we be drey and barryn, for that prayer is to Him acceptabil and plesante.

After this, our Lord’s showing was for prayer,
to show me rightfulness and secure trust.
but often our trust is not full,
for we are not sure God hears us,
we think we are unworthy, valueless,
for we are often as barren and dry
after our prayers as we were before.
This feeling is our own folly;
it is the cause of our weakness
I have felt this in myself.

Our Lord brought these words suddenly to my mind:
I am the ground of your prayer.
First I want you to pray,
then I make you want to pray,
then I make you pray,
and you pray.
How could I not grant your prayer?

In the first reason and three that follow,
our good Lord’s words show powerful comfort.
After those first reasons He says, And you pray.
There He shows that He will grant us
great pleasure and endless reward
for our prayer.

And in the sixth reason He said,
How could I not grant your prayer?
because it is impossible for us
to pray for mercy and grace and not have it.
Everything our good Lord makes us pray for,
He ordained to us out-with all beginning.

Here we see prayer does not cause God’s goodness.
He showed this truly in all these sweet words
when He says, I am the ground.
our Lord wants all who love Him to know this,
and the more we know, the more we should pray.

Prayer is the soul’s fresh, gracious, lasting desire
united and fastened into our Lord’s desire
by the Holy spirit’s sweet hidden work.
Our Lord is first to receive our prayers,
taking them thankfully in high delight.
He sends them above to be treasured
where they shall never perish before God
in all His holiness, ever received,
ever speeding our needs.
And when we shall receive our bliss
it shall be given us as a measure of joy
endless worshipful thanks from Him.

Glad and merry is our Lord with our prayers,
and He looks for them, and He will have them.
For with His grace He makes us like Him
in condition as we are in nature,
and so is His blissful will, for He says,
Pray earnestly though you think it does not satisfy you. For it is profitable though you feel nothing, though you see nothing, yes, even if you think you might not, For in dryness and in barrenness, in sickness and in feebleness, your prayers are very pleasing to me, though you think it satisfies you only little; and so are all your believing prayers in my sight.

For the reward and the endless thanks He will give us,
He wants us to pray continually in His sight.

God accepts His servant’s goodwill and effort,
however we feel.
It pleases Him when we work at our prayers,
and in good living,
with His help and grace, reasonably with discretion,
holding to Him with all our strength,
until we have Him that we seek
in fullness of joy – that is, Jesus.
He showed that in the fifteenth Revelation
before this word,
You shall have Me as your reward.

Thanks also belong to prayers.
Thanking is fresh, inward knowing,
with great reverence and lovely awe,
turning ourself with all our might
to the work our good Lord stirs us,
enjoying and thanking inwardly.

Sometimes it is so full it breaks out aloud,
“Good Lord, grant mercy. May You be blessed .”
Sometimes when the heart is dry and feels nothing,
or else by temptation of our enemy,
then it is driven by reason and grace
to cry to our Lord aloud,
and recall His blessed passion
and His great goodness.
And the virtue of our Lord’s word turns to the soul,
and quickens the heart, entering it by His grace
in true working, and making it pray
blissfully and truly to enjoy our Lord;
a full, blissful thanks in His sight.

  Ch. 42
 
      Off three thyngs that longyn to prayor, and how we shuld pray; and of the goodnes of God that supplyeth alway our imperfection and febilnes whan we do that longyth to us to do. Forty-second chapter.

Our Lord God wants us to have a true understanding
of three things belonging to our prayers.

First, by whom and how our prayers spring.
He showed by whom, saying, I am the ground;
He showed how by His goodness,
when He said, It is my will.

Second is how we should use our prayers,
to turn our will joyfully into His;
which He meant in saying, I make you want it.

Third, to know the fruit and end of our prayers:
to be like and one with Him in everything.

To this meaning and for this end
was all this lovely lesson shown;
He will help us, and we shall make it so –
as He said Himself.
May He be blessed.

He desires our prayers and trust equally.
For if we do not trust as much as we pray,
our prayers do not fully worship Him,
and we delay and pain ourselves,
because we do not truly know our Lord
as the soil on whom our prayers spring,
or that it is given us by His love’s grace.

If we knew this, we would trust to have,
by our Lord’s gift, all that we desire.
For I am sure no man asks mercy and grace
with true intent,
without mercy and grace having first been given him.

Sometimes we feel we have prayed long,
but still do not have our desire.
We should not be heavy-hearted
for I am sure of our Lord’s intent;
we either await a better time,
or more grace, or a better gift.
He wants us to know He is truly there;
with our understanding grounded
in what this means, with all our might.
On this ground He wants us to make our stand
and our dwelling. In His gracious light
He wants us to understand the things that follow.

First, our noble and excellent making;
second, our precious and dearworthy redemption;
third, everything He has made beneath us to serve us,
which He keeps for our love.
He means this, as if He said:
Look and see that I have done all this, before your prayers,
and now you are here praying to me.

He means we need to know and be thankful,
those greatest deeds are as Holy Church teaches,
we should pray thankfully for what He does now,
ruling and guiding us to His worship in this life
to bring us to His bliss.
He has done everything for this.

He means us to pray because we see He does it,
for just one thing is not enough;
if we pray and do not see He does it,
it makes us heavy and doubtful,
which is not true worship.

And if we see what He does but do not pray,
we are in debt – which should not be –
that is to say, He sees no response.
But to see what He does, and to pray at once,
then He is worshipped and we are helped along.

Our Lord wants us to pray for all He ordains,
either in particular or in general;
and the joy and bliss it is to Him,
and the thanks and worship we gain by it,
passes the understanding of all creatures,
as to my sight.

For prayer is true understanding
of the full joy that is coming,
with strong desire and secure trust.
Lack of that bliss sown in our nature
plants the desire for it in us.
Its true understanding and love,
with sweet thoughts of our Saviour,
graciously grows our trust in Him.
In planting our desire, and in our prayer,
our Lord watches over us forever.

For it is our debt,
His goodness implants no less in us.
So we must be diligent,
yet we shall still think it nothing;
and so it is.

But we must do what we can,
truly asking mercy and grace.
All we lack we shall find in Him,
which is what He meant in saying,
I am the ground of your prayer.
And so in the bliss of this word
I saw all our weakness
and all our doubtful fears
fully overcome.

Chapter 43
 
What prayor doth, ordeynyd to God will; and how the goodnes of God hath gret lekyng in the deds that He doth be us, as He wer beholden to us, werkyng althyng ful swetely. Forty-third chapter.

Prayer unites the soul to God;
for though the soul is always like God
in its physical nature in the world,
in its eternal nature in God,
restored by grace,
it’s condition is often unlike Him
from sin on man’s part.
Then prayer bears witness for the soul
that it’s will is God’s will,
comforting the conscience,
enabling man to grace.

So He teaches us to pray,
trusting strongly to have what we ask.
He watches over us in love,
as partners in His good work.
stirring us to pray
for that which pleases Him to do;
for those prayers and good will
He will have for His gift,
He will reward us eternally.

And this was shown in these words,
And you beseech it.
In this God showed so great pleasure,
so great delight,
as if He were much indebted to us
for every good deed we do,
and yet it is He that does it.

So we pray Him, mightily,
to do whatever pleases Him,
as if He said,
What then might please Me more,
than to pray mightily, wisely, wilfully
to do what I shall do?

And so the soul by prayer accords to God.

But when our courteous Lord by His grace
shows Himself to our soul,
we have what we desire,
and then we cannot see at the time
what more we should pray,
but all our intent, all our might
is set wholly on beholding Him.
As I see it, this is high, unperceivable prayer.

For all the causes of our prayer,
are united in the sight and regard
of Him to whom we pray,
marvellously enjoying, with reverent fear,
and such great sweetness and delight in Him,
that we can only pray as He stirs us at the time.

Well I know, the more the soul sees of God,
the more it desires Him by His grace.
But when we do not see Him,
then we feel our need and cause to pray
for our failing – to fit ourself to Jesus.
For when the soul is tested,
troubled, and left to itself by unrest,
than it is time to pray,
to become supple, obedient to God.

But by no manner of prayer
does he make God obedient to him,
for God is forever constant in love.
I saw that when we see the need to pray,
our good Lord follows us, helping our desire.
And when we, by His special grace,
seek only Him, seeing no other need,
then we follow Him,
and He draws us into Him by love.

I saw and felt His marvellous, fulsome goodness
fulfilling all our powers,
then I saw His continuous work
in everything done so well,
so wisely, so powerfully
that it surpasses all our imagining,
all we can know and think;
then we can do no more but look to Him,
enjoying with a high, mighty desire
to be all one in Him,
entered into His dwelling,
enjoying His loving,
delighting in in His goodness.

And then, with His sweet grace, we shall
in our own meek, continual prayers,
come to Him in this life
with many private touches
of sweet spiritual sight and feeling,
measured by the Holy Spirit’s grace,
as much as our simplicity can bear,
until we die in longing for love.

Then we shall all come to our Lord,
clearly knowing ourself, having Him fully;
forever dwelling in God,
seeing Him truly, feeling Him fully,
hearing Him spiritually,
smelling Him delectably,
sweetly swallowing Him;
then we shall see God face to face,
homely and totally.

Every created soul shall see
and behold God his maker forever.
Though no soul may see God and live,
that is only in this mortal life,
but if He shows Himself here
by His own special grace
He strengthens the creature beyond itself,
and measures the showing as He will,
to the soul’s profit at that time.

God’s Daydream

Last September I posted a scientific parallel of Genesis. Here it is again as a children’s story:

Some of God’s days are longer than others and some much shorter. Some are made up of lots and lots of our days. Peter, a very good friend of Jesus, said one of our days could be like a thousand years for God, and a thousand of our years could be like just one day for Him. He really doesn’t mind.

This story is about God’s days, his first special ones.

God’s First Day – Let there be light.

It is a story before all stories, the story of a daydream. It wasn’t a dream in the night because there was no night yet, and it wasn’t a dream in the day because there was no day yet. It was a daydream about a day that hadn’t happened. There was nothing, an emptiness with no people, no animals and no places for them to be. But the emptiness shimmered with little almost-waves like the surface of a calm sea just before the wind comes, but these were not almost-waves of water, they were almost-waves of light.

God knew His day needed light so he blew on the almost-waves and said ‘Let’s have light.’ They shimmered and shimmered until suddenly there it was, beautiful and dazzling and a little bit frightening. Well, actually, much more than a little bit – it was very frightening.  That is it would have been if we had been there to be frightened but luckily for us we weren’t and God liked it and there was no longer nothing. There were great, glorious waves of light.

It was the first day and it went by in a flash, which was quite long enough for God.

God’s Second Day – space.

The dancing light waves pushed and pressed at each other like children fighting for sweets. ‘All that light with nothing to do and nowhere to go.’ thought God. ‘I think there should be some order here.’

So he made a rule: some waves could not be in the same place at the same time but other than that they could do what they liked (actually he made some other rules we call the initial conditions but I don’t want to bore you with that).

The waves did as they were told. They flew here and there (which was of course the first ‘here and there’ – before that there was nowhere). As they flew they changed. They became red and green and blue, and strong and weak, and big and small – all the colours of the rainbow and many more things you and I could hardly understand and the space between them became bigger and bigger. It was the second day.

God’s Third Day – the Earth forms with land, seas and early life.

God said, ‘If they carry on like this they will fly away and disappear again. Let’s have a little bit of gravity here.’

And the waves came together in space and, wherever they did, they behaved as though they were tiny specks, smaller than the smallest piece of dust, but so many that they made galaxies and stars and planets and moons and all sorts of places – and one of them was our own home, Earth.

In the Earth, and other places too for all I know, some of them got together and made tiny almost-plants like the first almost-waves and these made more and more until they got together and began to build real plants. Each new plant could make more, bigger and bigger and bigger ones.

It was the third day, a very long one. For us it would have been millions of millions of years but to God it was just another day.

God’s Fourth Day – the seasons of the sun and moon, life in seas and land.

God said ‘Let’s have a few changes here.’

Now, if you remember, everything was made of waves of light, so the plants needed light to grow and change and they got most of it from the Sun and the Moon and the stars. The Moon is big like a small planet although it is not as big as our Earth. We are like two planets turning round and round each other as we go round the Sun together. This makes summer when it is brighter and hotter, and winter when it is colder and dimmer, and the in-between times, spring and autumn. It makes the sea tides rise and fall, and gives us bright days and dark nights.

All these changes caused changes in the plants. After millions of our years some of them changed a lot but to God it was just another day. The fourth one.

God’s Fifth Day – the spread of mammals.

God’s fifth day was even longer. Slowly the changing seasons and tides, and days and nights, and all the changes that the plants had to make to keep up, made the seas swarm with plant life and some of them became almost-animals. God liked that.

‘Let’s have more.’ He said.

So just as the almost-waves had become light, and the almost-plants became real plants, so the almost-animals became real animals. It took a very long time, fifty million of our years, until the seas became the home of millions of tiny creatures. Fifty million years is a very long time but it took a hundred million years before a very different animal grew called Trigonotarbids. It was different because it lived out of the water. It was the first land animal.

Have you been counting? I have. So far God’s fifth day has been a hundred and fifty million of our years but it wasn’t over yet! It was another two hundred million years before much larger animals grew. You will have heard of these, they were Dinosaurs.

And still God’s fifth day was not over!

The Dinosaurs roamed the Earth for another hundred and seventy million years. There were lots of them: small ones, large ones, very, very large ones, even some that could fly, but eventually they came to an end and the only ones left were some of the ones that could fly. They became birds. I expect you guessed that. And that was the end of God’s fifth day.

If you have been counting it took five hundred and twenty million of our years, and if you weren’t counting it still took five hundred and twenty million.

God’s Sixth Day – the coming of Mankind.

Once the big dinosaurs were gone the world was safer for smaller animals. God’s dream was getting better and better.

‘I like them.’ Said God, ‘Let’s have some more.’

So monkeys and pigs and songbirds and horses and camels and little shrews and all sorts of creatures spread far and wide but God’s daydream was still not finished.

God said, ‘There’s no-one else here quite like me. I want someone to share it with.’

He didn’t mind what they looked like because he had made many different creatures, but he wanted someone who would be pleased with this world and love it like he did – friends who could look after it all. Once the animals had spread all over the Earth, which took nearly sixty million of our years, God breathed his spirit into one of the creatures and it loved the world he had made. After many more millions of our years it became us. That was the end of God’s sixth day.

God’s Seventh Day – He rests.

So the heavens and the earth were finished and everything in them, and on the seventh day of God’s daydream he blessed it because it was the day that he rested from all the work that he had done. The seventh day went by in a flash just like the first.

Then the serious work began.

Depth

You say I think too deeply while the sun is on the sand
and sparkles in the shallows and spreads across the land,
and little fish come darting and nibble at our toes.

You say I think too deeply, but here out in the bay
the sea shelves blue and deeper, and larger fishes play,
and sun comes thin and slanting, and darkens as it goes.

How can I think too deeply when all around is deep?
and echoes as though Heaven is waking after sleep;
or like the night-bird, chanting to incarnadine the rose.

Are the stars still shining faintly in these shadowed ocean deeps,
where the sea as dark as wine has been given for a sign
of the deep that calls to deep in the human and Divine?

Does the wave-sound filtered finely from the sunlight and the foam
carry echoes touched with starlight and a distant call of home?
Though clouded with a doubt is there yet an Avalon
that calls across the waters and forever draws me on?

Are the sunlight in the shallows,
.      and the sand between our toes,
.and the sunlight faintly filtered
.       that darkens as it goes,
and the chanting nightingale
.       with the rose thorn at his breast
at one with all who labour that shall be given rest?

There is a tale that once all roses were white until, one night, a nightingale fell in love with a rose and, singing his love but getting no response, sang ever more sweetly, closer and closer, until, pressing his heart against her stem, he died upon a thorn, staining her with his own spilled blood; since when, all roses of love have been red.

 

The Bow Shall be Seen in the Cloud…

Once I saw the most remarkable rainbow of any I can remember. It was not double – I have seen double rainbows, and they are certainly a wonderful sight. No, this was a single, ordinary rainbow, if anything as wonderful as a rainbow can be called ordinary. It was complete, bold and beautiful in colour, spread across a broad, dramatic peakland sky, extending over the far tree-lined drystone wall of a sheep meadow which in turn I viewed over another drystone wall.

The bow shone against a backdrop of grey and white clouds amply interspersed with blue sky. The sheep field shone green in the sun and two sheep wandered along the far wall. A fine cloud-mist cooled my face.

I was walking with Kate, a small west highland white terrier, and was brought to a halt by the spectacle. Kate, with the poor colour-sense of all dogs, ignored it and nosed along in the long grass getting slowly covered in goose-grass burrs while I stood transfixed. I paid for it later when I had to pick them off.

It is hard to describe my feelings as I stood for over ten minutes watching the changing moods of the sky and fields. At times the entire bow was seen against a backdrop of clouds except where its earthbound ends dipped to the trees and wall. Occasionally it stood out in places against blue sky which shone through it although the spectral bands could still be clearly seen. Sometimes the field below darkened with cloud shadows and yet the rainbow persisted above. There were no great drops of rain, just the fine cloud-mist against my face from a large irregular cloud that was passing over me. Any moment I expected the greater flurry of rain that often comes at the tail of a cloud, but it did not come. Only the fine refreshing cloud-damp blowing through my hair and lightly in my face.

Behind me a low morning sun gleamed through the silver-gold lining of a grey cloud, that seemed almost stationary compared to the wracks passing overhead. In front, the tail of cloud moved, oh so slowly, toward me. The rainbow was fixed, bright and constant. The sheep ambled to and fro then moving off to my left passed through the rainbow’s end by the wall.

Suddenly a thin cloud crossed the sun and the bow dimmed only to brighten again as the sun penetrated more strongly. Steadily the tail of the cloud moved toward me. The blue sky grew in its wake. The wind tossed leaves through the air and ripples through the grass. Kate lay down, thought better of it and nosed off after some fascinating scent. The clear sky grew until the whole bow was spread out against the blue vault of the heavens – something I had never seen before. Then, very slowly over several minutes, rain and bow faded together leaving a brilliant morning sky.

I pondered that a rainbow can fade in two ways: because the sun is dimmed or because the rain clears, and that I could be struck by beauty while my colour-blind companion saw nothing at all.

I stayed a few moments looking at the scene, then turned to go. To my amazement the rainbow colours returned in a flash. There was no rain, just the sun shining in the drops in my hair and lashes. I carried the rainbow with me.