"Our life is all grounded and rooted in love,
and without love we may not live."
Today is the commemoration of Dame Julian of Norwich, one of the great saints of the English Christian tradition. In the late fourteenth century, Julian, age 30, fell gravely ill and was not expected to survive. During her illness and unlikely recovery, she experienced fifteen visions, often called ‘showings,’ of Christ and his passion.
So deeply moved by this experience, Julian became an anchoress following her recuperation, living the remainder of her life in a small cell attached, ‘anchored,’ to a parish church in the city of Norwich. From her cell, Julian rooted her life in a rhythm of prayer and study, writing extensively about her experience of God’s abundant love and mercy. The window of Julian’s cell became a frequent destination for those seeking spiritual wisdom and guidance as she was known to offer deep and lasting insight with simple, straightforward delivery.
A few years ago, Amanda and I were fortunate to participate in a pilgrimage to Norwich, spending a day at Julian’s cell and a week in residence at nearby Norwich Cathedral. The peaceful presence of God’s merciful love remains ever present in Julian’s cell and the shrine church to which it is anchored. Her words and witness speak from centuries long passed to our present moment.
Most famously, to Dame Julian is ascribed this proclamation and prayer: “All shall be well, all shall be well, and, in all manner of things, all shall be well.” This more than wishful thinking. In an anxious, fearful, and frustrated world, Julian’s words are balm to our wearied and worn souls. Indeed, all shall be well, because of the abundant love of God, present in this and every age.
Blessed Julian of Norwich, anchoress and mystic, pray for us.
The Reverend Andrew J. Hege