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Julian of Norwich, Part III

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mystics and Non-Dual Thinkers: Week 2

Julian of Norwich, Part III
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Like most Christian mystics, Julian of Norwich is very Trinitarian, and as with many others, the dynamic principle of three invariably produces a fourth on a new level and the triangle becomes a circle. Many say in different ways that you and I, the Body of Christ, Creation, the entire universe, are, as it were, the fourth member of the Blessed Trinity, as we all return to our First and Ultimate Source.

In Chapter 54 of Julian’s Showings, we find what I consider the best description I have read of the union of the soul inside of the Trinity. Julian says, “God makes no distinction in love between the blessed soul of Christ and the least soul on this earth.” God can only see Christ in us, it seems, because we are the extended Body of Christ in space and time; Christ is what God sees and cannot not love and draw back into the Divine Dance of Love. In Catholic symbolization, this was seen as the assumption of a feminine human body, Mary, back into the Godhead. (No surprise that the psychologist C.G. Jung said the doctrine of the Assumption was the most significant doctrinal development of the modern era!)

Julian continues: “I saw no difference between God and our substance, but, as it were, all God; and still my understanding accepted that our substance is in God, that is to say that God is God, and our substance is a creature in God. For the almighty truth of the Trinity is our Father, for he made us and keeps us in him. And the deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we are enclosed. And the high goodness of the Trinity is our Lord, and in him we are enclosed and he in us. We are enclosed in the Father, and we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. And the Father is enclosed in us, the Son is enclosed in us, and the Holy Spirit is enclosed in us, almighty, all wisdom and all goodness, one God, one Lord” (Showings, 54; emphasis mine).

In addition to Julian, many of the medieval mystics, especially women, use the language of God flowing out toward them and through them and back to them (Mechtild of Magdeburg, Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Ávila). For Christians it becomes the objective Trinitarian flow of God’s life in us, through us, with us, for us—and usually in spite of our conscious ignorance of the same. We are inside that flow; we are that flow outward and in return. This is surely what John’s Gospel means when Jesus says, “I have come forth to take you back with me” so that “where I am you also may be” (see John 17).

Julian saw God as both mother and father, which was quite daring for her time. She called Jesus our “true Mother” from whom we receive our beginning, our true being, protection, and love. Even in terms of gender, mystics tend to be unitive and even androgynous. In Chapter 59 of Showings she writes:

Our highest Father, God Almighty, who is ‘Being,’ has always known us and loved us: because of this knowledge, through his marvelous and deep charity and with the unanimous consent of the Blessed Trinity, He wanted the Second Person to become our Mother, our Brother, our Saviour.

It is thus logical that God, being our Father, be also our Mother. Our Father desires, our Mother operates, and our good Lord the Holy Ghost confirms; we are thus well advised to love our God through whom we have our very being. I then saw with complete certainty that God, before creating us, loved us, and His love never lessened and never will. In this love he accomplished all his works, and in this love he oriented all things to our good and in this love our life is eternal.

By this same grace everything is penetrated, in length, in breadth, in height, and in depth without end (Ephesians 3:18-19), and it is all one love!

And surely that is more than enough to hold your whole life together.

Adapted from Intimacy: The Divine Ambush, disc 7 (CD, MP3 download),
and Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 45-46

Gateway to Silence:
“Nothing can come between God and the soul.” —Julian of Norwich

Photograph (detail) by pedrojperez
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