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Julian of Norwich, Part II

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mysticism: Week 2

Julian of Norwich, Part II
Monday, October 2, 2017

The place which Jesus takes in our soul he will nevermore vacate, for in us is his home of homes, and it is the greatest delight for him to dwell there. . . . And the soul who thus contemplates is made like [the one] who is contemplated. —Julian of Norwich [1]

On that day, you will know that you are in me and I am in you. —John 14:20

“That day” John refers to has been a long time in coming, yet it has been the enduring message of every great religion in history. It is the Perennial Tradition. Divine and thus universal union is still the core message and promise—the whole goal and the entire point of all religion.

Lady Julian of Norwich uses the idea of “oneing” to describe divine union. She writes:

The soul is preciously knitted to him in its making, by a knot so subtle and so mighty that it is oned into God. In this oneing, it is made endlessly holy. Furthermore, he wants us to know that all the souls which are one day to be saved in heaven without end are knit in this same knot and oned in this oneing, and made holy in this one identical holiness. [2]

Julian says, “By myself I am nothing at all, but in general, I am in the oneing of love. For it is in this oneing that the life of all people exists.” [3] She continues: “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person” [4], and “In the sight of God all humans are oned, and one person is all people.” [5]

This is not some 21st century leap forward in theology. This is not pantheism or mere “New Age” optimism. This is the whole point and always has been. It was, indeed, supposed to usher in a new age—and it still can and will. Radical union is the recurring experience of the saints and mystics of all religions. Our job is not to first discover it, but only to retrieve what has been re-discovered—and enjoyed, again and again—by those who desire and seek God and love. When you think you have “discovered” it, you will be just like Jacob “when he awoke from his sleep” and shouted, “You were here all the time, and I never knew it!” (Genesis 28:16).

Gateway to Silence:
We are all one with You.

[1] Julian of Norwich, Showings, Chapter 22 (Short text), trans. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh (Paulist Press: 1978), 164.
[2] Julian of Norwich, Showings, Chapter 53. See The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love, eds. Nicholas Watson and Jacqueline Jenkins (Pennsylvania State University Press: 2006), 295. (Sentences presented here are adapted from Julian’s Middle English.)
[3] Showings, Chapter 9. See Watson and Jenkins, 155.
[4] Showings, Chapter 65. Ibid., 329.
[5] Showings, Chapter 51. Ibid., 279. 

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 95;
Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate: Seeing God in All Things, disc 7 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), CD, DVD, MP3 download; and
“Introduction,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), 14. Issue no longer available.

Image credit: 4th and Walnut Streets, Louisville, Kentucky, looking south, 1956.
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