May 15, 2008

Julian of Norwich


Protestant me (though I hate that word, but it does kinda 'place' me - maybe I should use 'Reformed', since I'm always reforming, but I don't like it's lingering images either...) - but to move on, I'm going to talk of another Saint. Mystic Julian is mentioned in some saint books and recognized with a calendar date in some faiths, but I don't think the Catholic church has included her in their calendar.

But 'calendar girl' me, is adding Juliana to my calendar because I like some of her thoughts. I posted a long time ago that the Church recognized people on their death days since they see that as their 'birthday' into heaven. (Though I didn't grow up with any of this, I find it interesting, and it is a part of church history - the 3rd Testament stories. Paul refers to us all as saints, and we have our stories too - a continuation of the Book of Acts.) Julian became very ill May 8 and died around now in 1423.

Julian of Norwich is known for her 'showings' written about in her Revelations of Divine Love. She lived at a time when people greatly desired visions from God (do we?) even to the point of experiencing Christ's death with a stigmata. Julian was 'shown' Christ's sufferings with extraordinary intensity, but also received assurance of God's unwavering love for mankind and his infinite capacity for forgiveness - "I must tell you about the goodness of God".

Julian desired to see reality as God sees it. Julian seemed to be given the gift of seeing life outside of our chronos earthly measurable time. In God's kairos unmeasurable time - actually 'no time' - she saw the Fall of Adam and the Incarnation of Christ as the same event. "When Adam fell, God's son fell; because the true union made in heaven, God's son could not leave Adam, for by Adam I understand all men. Adam fell from life to death into the valley of this wretched world, and after that into Hell. God's son fell with Adam into the valley of the Virgin's womb, in order to free Adam from guilt in heaven and in earth; and with his great power he fetched him out of hell."

When in bed sick she fixed her eyes on a crucifix because a parson had told her, "Look upon it and be comforted, in reverence to him that died for you and me." And then she said, "the room was dim all around me, as dark as if it had been night, except that in the image of the cross an ordinary household light remained - I could not understand how."

I mention the last paragraph because of having looked up the word 'crucible' in the Oxford Dictionary. I've mentioned I love words (like the fun language poem a couple days ago), and I like to see words' origins, since definitions and images change over time. How would you define crucible?
It's latin origin is "lamp on a crucifix". I love this.

I sat with the origin of 'crucible' for awhile and ended up creating a needlefelted image of it. It got incorporated into a wall-hanging of three pictures I'll have to describe later.

Thinking more on Juliana not being acknowledged in the Catholic Calendar ... I wonder if it would have anything to do with her seeing God as our mother as well as our father ... "God as nurturing ... giving birth to humanity ... that the body that died in its birth-pangs on the cross remains a source of generous maternal nourishment for humanity". In actuality, the Church looks for miracles after ones death, which would be evidence of them being in heaven. I think how they LIVED LIFE would be the most important.

Another tangent: If the 'present moment' is what touches eternity, how many of us really LIVE in the present moment? The past and future are not here and now. The only thing we have control over is what to do in the present moment?!

My hopes and efforts are to live with the cross ever before my vision and choices. And when it's dark, I trust God, that there's a light on the cross and my path.
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