(photograph: Purple coneflower/ Botanical Gardens–Callaway Gardens, Pine Mt., GA/ Julie Cook/ 2013)
“He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but he said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.”
― Julian of Norwich
or in a more plain language
“He did not say ‘You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work-weary, you shall not be discomforted’. But he did say, ‘You shall not be overcome.’ God wants us to heed these words so that we shall always be strong in trust, both is sorrow and in joy.”
–Julian of Norwich
I have always had a keen interest in St. Julian of Norwich–not knowing exactly why that is….
History tells us very little about Julian. She was born sometime around the year 1342. Unfortunately we don’t even know her “real” name. What we do know is that she was most likely not a nun but rather an anchoress/ anchorite—-that being a woman who would literally “anchor” themselves to a church—living in a small cell attached to a church.
Often times these anchoret’s cells were truly cell-like whereas the occupant was literally ‘bricked in” for the duration their life. The cells would have windows allowing for the anchoress to listen to then offer advice to those who came seeking help with various concerns–another “window” looked into the sanctuary of the church allowing her to hear services and receive the holy sacraments.
The cell she chose to occupy just happened to be attached to the small church of St Julian, Bishop of Le Mans in Norwich, England—thereby, forever proclaiming this enigma of a woman, to be known simply as Julian of Norwich.
We do know that she is the first woman of the English speaking world to have published a book. The book, The Revelations of Divine Love, was based on a series of visions/showings/ revelations she received shortly after having turned thirty. Earlier in her life she had asked three things of God—to be ever mindful of Christ’s passions, to, by the time she turned 30, experience a bodily sickness as this was the same age when Christ began his earthly ministry, and finally, to have three have 3 wounds (as in Christ’s three wounds); true contrition, loving compassion and a longing for God.
It was shortly after turning 30 that she was struck by what appeared to be a life ending illness and yet miraculaouy survived. It was during her convelesing that she recievded 16 visions, showings or revelations. It was at this time she decided to dedicate her life to God by becoming an Anchorite– of what is believed to have been a Benedictine order at the time.
One of the visions expressed in her writings is the concept that whatever God does, He does so, always, in and with love—therefore “all shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well”
That simple statement, mantra, prayer has been a sustaining force in my life—being reminded and ever mindful that… with God—all shall indeed be well—despite whatever pickle, trauma, turmoil, woe, tragedy, sadness besets me… I just need to be reminded, sometimes strongly so, that I will overcome…all because He overcame long ago……..and all shall be well….