Contemplation of Julian of Norwich’s Six Understandings

From the Abbey of Iona--Time of Pilgrimmage

This blog is a condensed version of the contemplative prayer session facilitated at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church during Sunday School in West Huntington.

To be a mystic is to be a person who wants to connect more deeply with God, the Mystery. Read the following excerpts from Revelations of Love.  Then follow the instructions for the time of contemplation:

“Let us first be clear what is a mystic. We can define such a person as having heightened perception of God and receiving thereby direct tangible communication from him. It is my belief that we ought not to set the mystic apart from ourselves, as somebody peculiar or star struck. Rather is there mystic in us all, if only we will attend. Certainly that is how Julian felt: all our common calling in this life is to come to know God and experience the touching of his love.”  A Revelation of Love, Julian of Norwich edited and translated by John Skinner. New York: Doubleday Image Books. 1997. Preface: xi

All the while I saw this copious bleeding, I cold not cease from saying, “Benedicite, Domine!” In this revelation I understood six points: the first is the signs of his blessed [1]passion and the plentiful shedding of his precious blood; the second is the Maiden that is his own dear Mother; the third is the blissful Godhead that always was, is, and every shall be, almighty, all wise, and all love; the fourth is all that he has made–I know full well both heaven and earth and all things he has made are great and large, fair and good: only it seemed so little in my sight because it was shown in the presence of him who is the Maker of it all. When a soul sees the Maker, all that he made appears as a very little thing. The fifth is the Maker of all that made it for love: and by this same love is it kept[2], and shall be without end, as I have said earlier; the sixth is that God is all that is good, and the good that is in all things, that is he, as I see it.  A Revelation of Love, Julian of Norwich. P. 17.

Six Points for Contemplation from Julian’ of Norwich’s understanding of the first showing she received from Jesus.

Select One,

read it several times.

Pray for God to give you fresh insight.

Sit for twenty minutes perhaps repeating the whole sentence you chose, or a word from it, drawing your mind into focus, or picture the image the sentence you chose brings to your mind’s eye.

1. the first is the signs of his blessed[3] passion and the plentiful shedding of his precious blood

2. the second is the Maiden that is his own dear Mother

3. the third is the blissful Godhead that always was, is, and every shall be, almighty, all wise, and all love

4. the fourth is all that he has made–I know full well both heaven and earth and all things he has made are great and large, fair and good: only it seemed so little in my sight because it was shown in the presence of him who is the Maker of it all. When a soul sees the Maker, all that he made appears as a very little thing.

5. The fifth is the Maker of all that made it for love: and by this same love is it kept[4], and shall be without end, as I have said earlier

6. the sixth is that God is all that is good, and the good that is in all things, that is he, as I see it

[1] Blissid: “blessed” in the sense of bringing bliss. Yet the first blessing (Exodus 12: 13) was in blood; thus Julian identifies Christ’s passion as the source of future bliss.

[2] Julian’s notion of keeping is again a key concept. The Maker is both our creator and initiator yet—like a gardener who sows in order to tend–he too keeps and nurtures us. This she describes as God’s working with which she would have us collaborate continually

Once you have finished sitting silently contemplating, journal what this experience was like.  Expect to gain insight in some way. 

The word God is a term for Mystery: The Hebrew Bible contains great wisdom around the mystery of God. It uses two names for God: Elohim/Eloah, and Yahweh. Elohim has the form of a masculine plural, Eloah has the form of a feminine singular. Both are translated into English as God. Elohim and Eloah emerge from a great melting pot of cultures and civilizations stretching from India to Ethiopia (Esther 1: 1-2), where many gods are honored, both male and female. ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord’ is not a pointless tautology, but the radical proclamation that all the gods are one. The continued use of Elohim/Eloah throughout the Hebrew Bible acknowledges a reality that is complex and mysterious, unconstrained by gender, often appropriately plural, containing and embracing all goodness, all divinity, and ultimately all existence. God Without God. Michael Hampson. www.tikkun.org. May/June 2008.

 

About Administrator

Perhaps because I am trained in spiritual direction and a minister (currently pastoring a Presbyterian Church) and a writer, I tend to write about the Mystical, explore human connectedness, and oh yes, I often add a touch of England (where I was born and raised). The Ten Yen adult mystical series will soon have three published novels in the collection, with another book in the works. To learn more about me, my work, and my books, visit www.christinastclair.com
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