Mar 25 2011

Friday Florilegium

ONE time our good Lord said: All thing shall be well; and another time he said: Thou shalt see
thyself that all MANNER [of] thing shall be well; and in these two [sayings] the soul took sundry
understandings.
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One was that He willeth we know that not only He taketh heed to noble things and to great, but
also to little and to small, to low and to simple, to one and to other. And so meaneth He in that He
saith: ALL MANNER OF THINGS shall be well. For He willeth we know that the least thing shall
not be forgotten.
Another understanding is this, that there be deeds evil done in our sight, and so great harms
taken, that it seemeth to us that it were impossible that ever it should come to good end. And upon
this we look, sorrowing and mourning therefor, so that we cannot resign us unto the blissful beholding
of God as we should do. And the cause of this is that the use of our reason is now so blind, so low,
and so simple, that we cannot know that high marvellous Wisdom, the Might and the Goodness of
the blissful Trinity. And thus signifieth He when He saith: THOU SHALT SEE THYSELF if [1] all
manner of things shall be well. As if He said: Take now heed faithfully and trustingly, and at the
last end thou shalt verily see it in fulness of joy.
And thus in these same five words aforesaid: I may make all things well, etc., I understand a
mighty comfort of all the works of our Lord God that are yet to come. There is a Deed the which
the blessed Trinity shall do in the last Day, as to my sight, and when the Deed shall be, and how it
shall be done, is unknown of all creatures that are beneath Christ, and shall be till when it is done.
[” The Goodness and the Love of our Lord God” will that we wit [know] that it shall be; And
the “Might and the Wisdom of him by the same Love will”
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hill [conceal] it, and hide it from us what it shall be, “and how it shall be done.”]
And the cause why He willeth that we know [this Deed shall be], is for that He would have us
the more eased in our soul and [the more] set at peace in love—leaving the beholding of all troublous
things that might keep us back from true enjoying of Him. This is that Great Deed ordained of our
Lord God from without beginning, treasured and hid in His blessed breast, only known to Himself:
by which He shall make all things well.
For like as the blissful Trinity made all things of nought, right so the same blessed Trinity shall
make well all that is not well.

Today’s florilegium is from the 32nd chapter of Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. I recommend reading it aloud–this allows the lovely flow of the prose to aid in deciphering her meaning.

Julian’s anchorhold (a little two-room cell with a garden built against a church) was right on a busy street, in Norwich, a town of over 10,000.  She had one window that viewed the church altar, one window for people on the street through which people sought spiritual direction, and, most likely, a cat. She is the first woman to write a book in English.

Her book is the fruit of twenty years reflection on visions she had of Jesus during a brief life-threatening illness. Julian wrestled with reconciling the love of Christ with a Christianity of hellfire and brimstone, and the reality of extreme suffering. Her local bishop led a bloody Crusade and burned heretics a half mile from her home. She also witnessed the plague kill 80% of the population of Norwich when she was 6 and then 80% of the children (the adults had some immunity from the first time) when she was nineteen, likely losing her own children.

For all that she would have witnessed, Julian’s book is full of joy and trust that God would “make all things well.”

One time our good Lord said: All things shall be well; and another time he said: Thou shalt see thyself that all manner of thing shall be well; and in these two sayings the soul took sundry [many] understandings:

One was that He willeth we know that not only He taketh heed to noble things and to great, but also to little and to small, to low and to simple, to one and to other. And so meaneth He in that He saith: all manner of things shall be well. For He willeth we know that the least thing shall not be forgotten.

Another understanding is this, that there be deeds evil done in our sight, and so great harms taken, that it seemeth to us that it were impossible that ever it should come to good end.

And upon this we look, sorrowing and mourning therefor, so that we cannot resign us unto the blissful beholding of God as we should do. And the cause of this is that the use of our reason is now so blind, so low, and so simple, that we cannot know that high marvellous Wisdom, the Might and the Goodness of the blissful Trinity. And thus signifieth He when He saith: Thou shalt see thyself all manner of things shall be well. As if He said: Take now heed faithfully and trustingly, and at the last end thou shalt verily see it in fulness of joy.

And thus in these same five words aforesaid: I may make all things well,  I understand a mighty comfort of all the works of our Lord God that are yet to come. There is a Deed the which the blessed Trinity shall do in the last Day, as to my sight, and when the Deed shall be, and how it shall be done, is unknown of all creatures that are beneath Christ, and shall be till when it is done.

And the cause why He willeth that we know this Deed shall be, is for that He would have us the more eased in our soul and  the more set at peace in love—leaving the beholding of all troublous [troubling] things that might keep us back from true enjoying of Him. This is that Great Deed ordained of our Lord God from without beginning, treasured and hid in His blessed breast, only known to Himself: by which He shall make all things well.

For like as the blissful Trinity made all things of nought [out of nothing], right so the same blessed Trinity shall make well all that is not well.

Friday Florilegium 1


Mar 11 2011

Friday Florilegium

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This week’s florilegium is from On Religion by John Caputo:

“Let us speak then of love. What does it mean to “love” something? If a man asks a woman…”do you love me?” and if, after a long and awkward pause and considerable deliberation, she replies with wrinkled brow, “well, up to a certain point, under certain conditions, and to a certain extent,” then we can be sure that whatever it is she feels for this poor fellow it is not love and this relationship is not going to work out.

For if love is the measure, the only measure of love is love without measure.

One of the ideas behind “love” is that it represents a giving without holding back, an “unconditional” commitment, which marks love with a certain excess…Love is not a bargain, but unconditional giving; it is not an investment, but a commitment come what may.

Lovers are people who exceed their duty, who look around for ways to do more than is required of them.

If you love your job, you don’t just do the minimum that is required of you; you do more. If you love your children, what would you not do for them? If a wife asks a husband to do her a favor, and he declines on the grounds that he is really not duty bound by the strict terms of the marriage contract to do it, that marriage is all over except for the paper work.

Rather than rigorously defending their rights, lovers readily put themselves in the wrong and take the blame for the sake of preserving their love…A world without love is a world governed by rigid contracts and inexorable duties, a world in which – God forbid! – the lawyers run everything.

The mark of really loving someone or something is unconditionality and excess, engagement and commitment, fire and passion.

Friday Florilegium 1


Mar 2 2011

Guested by God

I simply sit at my desk this morning, in silence, pen in hand, paper ready for whatever words might come. My pinched heart stretches and expands and trusts a little more, to live a little larger, feel a little more deeply, ask more scary questions, hope more strongly in what I believe.

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The Spirit’s breath is like a hummingbird by my ear and God’s presence surrounds, the Love that weaves all moments of doing and living together.

But then my heart shrinks back from the Presence which is all that is Love and Joy and Beauty and Truth.

Too vulnerable, I whisper, too intimate.

So away from the moment and the face of God I flee, disconnecting and distracting myself with even the best of gifts and joys.

Ferry Flyer by SLF

It is not simply God that I flee, but myself:  All that I am, all I wish I wasn’t and all that I long to be reflected in that Face.

And God pursues me, until I stop and turn and be simply Susan. Here. Now.

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God names, calls, woos, loves us, to the ends of the earth and the farthest reaches of time, always whispering,

“Yes, I see that, and this, and even that, and I love you. I love you. Always. Keep your eyes on me.

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To welcome God’s presence in this moment means welcoming ourselves as well with God’s own hospitality. No posturing, not hiding, no fleeing, otherwise the hospital-now of graced healing cannot do its work.

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.

“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be she.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
(George Herbert)

In every moment, we are guested by Love.

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And as we are welcomed by Love, and welcome ourselves, welcoming others becomes a way of life.

Love welcomes the weary and angry hearts, the dry and cracked deserts of lost dreams, the icy wastes of bitter memory, the apathetic spirit of nothing-will-change.

Then sweeping God goes to work with her broom and clears and cleans, finding the lost coins of gifts with laughing joy on her lips.

The shepherd God goes searching high and low for the wandering heart, finding it shivering and cold, alone and afraid, Come with me, little one.

The long-loving  God runs to us and welcomes us home with a feast to this gift of life, and feeds the famished with his own self.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Come, in this moment, sit and eat.

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