“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
—Julian of Norwich
Thank God for that persistent word, since it’s one I’ve clung to and we desperately need to hear throughout the world’s pandemics.
Julian’s time (1343–1416) was remarkably like ours. She, too, lived during a pandemic; the Black Death was killing millions. The effects of climate change were evident in what we now call the Little Ice Age. Both led to agricultural crisis, which, along with unjust systems, led to widespread hunger, then to civil and social unrest. In the midst of all this chaos, Julian lived as an anchoress, a monastic dedicated to prayer who lived in an enclosed cell attached to a church. She had a window looking into the church (like our video worship?) and a window to the outside world where people came to her for prayer and spiritual direction (like our Zoom Bible study?). This life of prayerful solitude led to visions from God during a near-fatal illness. She wrote about them in what became the first book in English written by a woman. It was originally entitled Shewings, but was later called Revelations of Divine Love. (Living in your prayer closet is one way to get your book written!) Her visions included images of God as a loving Mother in the midst of crisis.
Not all of us are called to live in prayer closets to the extent that Julian did, but the Coronavirus has certainly given us opportunity and incentive to practice doing that. What has God shown you during your time of pandemic, as the effects of climate change and civil unrest ring out? Jesus still “calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea; day by day his sweet voice soundeth, saying ‘Christian, follow me.’”
What is helping you pray more honestly?
God, when we pray, help us genuinely seek you. Teach us to focus and to listen. Help us be still and open our hearts to you. Amen.