May 8, 2015
by Gretchen Rehberg
One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple
Today is the feast day of Dame Julian of Norwich who was born about 1342 and died in the early 1400’s. She was a contemplative who wrote a book called Revelations of Divine Love that was a reflection on a series of visions she had when gravely ill. Her book is a meditation on God’s eternal and all-embracing love. Dame Julian lived in a time of great turmoil and violence, but she was a person of hope and spoke of God’s love in terms of joy and compassion. She believed that God loves everyone. She grounded her life in prayer and meditation. Perhaps the most famous saying of Dame Julian comes from words spoken to her in vision by Jesus: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
“One thing I asked of the Lord…” If you were to ask only one thing of the Lord, what would that one thing be? To our psalmist that one thing is live in the house of the Lord. When you hear the words “house of the Lord” what comes to your mind? The Temple? Your congregation’s building? The natural world? The created universe? Sometimes we think we need to go somewhere special to find God. Sometimes we think God only meets us in certain places. What if we were to be open to seeing God everywhere? What if we were to understand that in fact we can meet God in nature, that perhaps the “house of the Lord” is simply everywhere and anywhere that we are open to God’s presence? If we could have this “one thing” – awareness that God is always with us, that we are always living in the “house of the Lord” – what might then be possible? To know that I am always and everywhere in the “house of the Lord” allows me to live in the confidence that Dame Julian gained upon hearing the words of Jesus – all shall be well. This doesn’t mean all shall be easy, but it shall be well.
As you go through the day ask that you might be open to God’s presence at all times and in all places of your day. Pray for the confidence that all shall be well. Be aware of the deep and abiding love that God has for you, and give thanks.
To read more about Julian of Norwich, click here.
Dame Julian appears in one of my favorite novels, Katherine, by Anya Seton. The 14th century was no picnic!!
Also, this “all shall be well” text is in William Mathias’ anthem, “As Truly As God Is Our Father (So Just As Truly Is He Our Mother)”. Turn up the volume! The beginning of the piece is very, very quiet! http://youtu.be/OuHPXsTxsTA
The British sngwriter, Sydney Carter (who also wrote the lyrics for “Lord of the Dance”), wrote a lovely song about her, “The Bells of Norwich.” There are several versions on YouTube.