Inspiration for this frosty Monday in January comes to us from the medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich.
Not much is known about Julian’s early life, including the name she was given at birth. But we’re fairly certain she was a lay person, and we know that when she was 30 years old she became seriously ill and had a series of visions about Christ’s passion. She recovered and lived the rest of her life as a recluse in a small cell attached to St. Julian’s Church in Norwich, England. From her cell, she wrote several manuscripts, which were eventually published under the title, Revelations of Divine Love.
One of Julian’s unique contributions to the world of spirituality was her extended description of God as mother. She wrote, “… when [a child] is hurt or frightened it runs to its mother for help as fast as it can; and [God] wants us to do the same, like a humble child, saying, ‘My kind Mother, my gracious Mother, my dearest Mother, take pity on me.’”
Here’s an excerpt from Revelations of Divine Love that gives us a closer look into Julian’s mystical experience:
Excerpt from REVELATIONS OF DIVINE LOVE
By Julian of Norwich
And in this [God] showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What might this be?’
And it was answered, “It is all that is made.”
I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it.
And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.
In this little thing I saw three [truths]: The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See Oxford World’s Classics Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich.
Some more inspirational nuggets for today:
- It’s the birthday of the father of American psychology, William James, in 1842. The son of a theologian, James trained at Harvard as a physician, but never practiced medicine. Instead, he devoted his life to the study of psychology. He also did important work in the philosophy of religion, much of which can be found in his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience. He believed religious experience — not religious institutions — should be the focus of any study of religion. For James, the highest religious experiences are found in mystical states, and it’s from our understanding of these mystical states that we begin the process of self-discovery.
- On this day in 1775, Francis Salvador became the first Jewish person elected to office in America. He was an immigrant from the Sephardic Jewish community in London who purchased land in South Carolina and intended to send for his wife, Sarah, and their four children once he was settled. After he was elected to South Carolina’s Provincial Congress, he became entangled in the fight against the British, and was killed by Cherokees allied with the British. His family never made it to the colonies.
- Also on this day, in 1569 England held its first public lottery outside Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It was a scheme to raise funds to repair England’s harbors and coastal defenses, and it was largely considered a flop, with just 10% of the 400,000 tickets purchased. Even so, it took 4 months to sort out the results because everyone who bought a ticket was guaranteed a prize, ranging from tapestries and silverware to a jackpot of 5,000 pounds. In the end, the organizers decided it was more trouble than it was worth, so they scrapped the idea of making it an annual event.
That’s today’s Spiritual Almanac.
If you’re interested in reading more of Julian of Norwich’s writing, take a look at Oxford World’s Classics, Revelations of Divine Love. There’s a link in the description.
A Spiritual Almanac is a production of Granola Soul. You can find a text version of today’s episode, the featured reading from Julian of Norwich and other spiritual resources at our website, GranolaSoul.com.
Thanks for listening. Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.