About Me

My photo
I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lenten Thoughts - Revisiting Julian of Norwich

I haven't posted much except for my Episcopal Cafe pieces. Part of my Lenten practice has been to try to delay the sign-on to the computer until after prayer time and some kind of morning movement - walking or workout. It is helping to restore some balance in my life -- it's so easy to get the feeling that I MUST be on email all the time because there are so many important demands on my time. It's good to find that there is time for other things. And surprising what a challenging Lenten discipline it has been. But it also means that blogging (which I wasn't doing much of before Lent either) has seemed like a luxury.

Some insights, though, to note as we round the bend past mid-Lent. Once again, I'm seeing that the whole story is about Love. Not a cheruby, greeting-card love but a strong, fierce love that will not let us go, and wills our wholeness even when we don't. And that love is somehow associated with the Cross, and that's the mystery I am contemplating for this season. I've been returning to Julian of Norwich, startled to find myself resonating in new ways with her vision of the Cross, which at other times I've experienced as somewhat bizarre. But on divine love she is incomparable She prays for three "wounds" -- two of them she asks only if God wills it (a vision of Christ's Passion, and an experience of mortal illness -- and of course she gets both of those things and sees them as gifts: this part of Julian is hard for most of us to grasp).

But I can relate to the third "wound" that she desires unconditionally -- that she insists on in all her prayers -- the wound of "an endless longing for God" -- a wound because this longing can sometimes be painful, but she knows that this is what connects us to the One who made us and loves us: our longing (and God's returning longing). So this passage from Julian, which I've read before, is even more striking for me today. From Frances Beers's translation of Julian of Norwich:
"At the same time as I saw this bodily sight, our lor dhowed me a spiritual vision of his matchless love. I saw that, for our benefit, he is all that is good and comforting and helpful to us. He is our clothing, who for love wraps and encloses us, embraces and encricles us, clings to us for tender love, that he may never leave us. In this vision I understood truly that he is everything that is good."

1 comment:

  1. While I would not describe my recent emergency appendectomy a "mortal illness" in our modern context, I was well aware of how dangerous it has been. While my mind could calmly state it is now a routine operation that did not take away the fear of a first time intrusion into my body. Repeating the "Jesus prayer" was a great comfort before the operation and during the recovery period.