Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
On Saturday 8th May, we celebrated the Feast Day of St Julian of Norwich. Born about 1342 Julian may not have been her given name but it is the name she adopted from the church dedicated to St Julian in Norwich where she spent a great deal of her life as an anchorite in a cell attached to the church. She was the first woman to publish a book, Reflections of Divine Love, a book that is still in print to this day. And it is from this book that I want to take just one question she asked: ‘Would’st thou know the Lord’s meaning?’ And the answer she discovered was: ‘Know it well. Love was his meaning.’ For the rest of her life she proclaimed that message from her cell. That was her calling, her mission. When we think about mission we might remember Paul’s arduous missionary journeys through what is now Asia Minor setting up new Christian churches, or maybe the Jesuit missions to the Far East, Africa and the Americas, or perhaps more recently the work of the Church Missionary Society. All worthy missions bringing a great many people to Christ. Julian’s mission by comparison was on a smaller scale although her influence is still felt around the world nearly 800 years after her death.
Now, I understand that her cell had two windows, one looking onto the interior of the church so that she could follow the services and receive her spiritual sustenance in the form of Holy Communion, whilst the other looked out onto the street where people would come to ask for her prayers and where she could tell those passing by about God; where she could explain Love was His meaning in words they could understand
Just for a moment, put yourself in Julian’s place. Look out of the window onto the street, who do you see there? Is there just one person who needs your love and prayer today? It need not be a great undertaking, just a simple gesture may be sufficient. It may be a phone call to a friend you have not met up with for a while due to this Covid pandemic. It may be just sitting in silence, holding the hand of someone who tells you a story from their past, even though you’ve heard it a thousand times before. Simple things perhaps but remember Jesus’ parable about the mustard seed. It is the smallest seed but when fully grown the birds nest in its branches. Now look out of the second window opening onto the church; the window where Julian received Holy Communion, and realise that we too need that same spiritual sustenance, for alone we can do nothing but if God is with us nothing is impossible.
Let us end by praying together these words Julian of Norwich wrote all those years ago since they are just as relevant to us today:
Lord, let not our souls be busy inns that have no room for thee or thine, but quiet homes of prayer and praise, where thou mayest find fit company, where the needful cares of life are wisely ordered and put away, and wide sweet spaces kept for thee; where holy thoughts pass up and down and fervent longings watch and wait thy coming. (Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love Penguin Classics p 169)
So this week I invite you to find out more about Julian of Norwich but in any case let us put into action the words of the Dismissal after Sung Eucharist: Go in peace to Love and serve the Lord.. Just as St Julian did before us.
I am an Authorised Local Preacher in an Anglo Catholic parish church, in the Diocese of Essex UK