May 7, 2014

Show and Tell

Dame Julian of Norwich (1342–c 1417) is among my favorite saints, one whose writings have nourished my spirituality and my theology. She was an English anchoress, dedicated to prayer and contemplation, and in later life a source of wisdom and spiritual direction to other pilgrims.

She was led to this unusual manner of life due to a mystical experience. About the age of thirty she fell ill and was not expected to survive. During this illness she experienced the “shewings” or revelations of divine love, during which Christ in his Passion offered her glimpses and hints of that which is beyond comprehension, but which brought her deep comfort.

Scholars have debated the dates of composition of the short and long texts in which Julian recorded and reflected upon her mystical experience over considerable time. Whenever composed, they are full of a depth of wisdom and clarity of thought. I commend them to reading and study and further reflection, particularly in the nimble and able translation from the Middle English by Fr. John-Julian OJN, who includes both the short and the long versions.

The drawing above is part of my “real-life icons” series, inviting us to see Julian as she may have appeared late in life, when she offered spiritual counsel to another pilgrim, Margery Kempe. I hope I have captured a regard which says, in Julian’s famous words, that “all manner of thing shall be well...”

The Collect
Lord God, in your compassion you granted to the Lady Julian many revelations of your nurturing and sustaining love: Move our hearts, like hers, to seek you above all things, for in giving us yourself you give us all; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

5 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Wonderful icon of dear Julian.

Tobias Haller said...

Thank you, Mimi. I'm particularly happy with the expression on this one --- is she about to laugh or weep with joy? All I can say is that it is the kind of face I'd like to see welcoming me into the divine love...

JCF said...

My name-saint! Thanks for this, Tobias. Lovely.

Holy Julian, pray for us...

John-Julian Swanson, OJN said...

After almost thirty-five years of daily involvement with Mother Julian, I always like to say that I know her so well that I would recognize her if I met her on the street—and you obviously did, Tobias! I have NEVER seen a better depiction of the Great Dame! It really is simply perfect. I must beg you for a copy of it that I can frame for the monastery. (And wonder who was your model?)

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks, JCF.
Fr. John Julian, I'd be happy to send you a print, but you could also have a nice print or even a canvas version or a plaque made up by going to my winkflash site: http://jintoku.winkflash.com/ -- prints are under "photo" and other options are available under other categories.

As to the model, you are the first to ask, though perhaps not the first to wonder. She is another English lady, rather well know for her work in the sciences, also grown to old age in contemplation of nature...