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Does anyone else love Julian of Norwich?

(8 Posts)
carlajean Sat 06-Feb-16 22:47:45

I always find her a great comfort. She wrote with such love, compassion and faith and her voice still rings true although she lived 5 centuries ago.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Sun 07-Feb-16 14:52:32

Carla I am not very familiar with her work but I have been drawn in the past towards Hildegard of Bingen who lived a similar sort of tucked-away-and-reflecting-deeply religious life.

Actually I quite fancy a cloistered sort of life myself as I think it would do wonders for focusing the mind. But perhaps I am over-romanticising? (And failing to factor in my atheism!)

Here is a snippet from Hildegard:

We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.

Hildegard is spot on here, I feel. Holding on to your own sense of reality and not being intimidated by the views of others, however stridently voiced is an important component of feeling at home in the world. (And surviving on MN!)

Do you have an example of Julian’s writing that particularly resonates with you?

carlajean Sun 07-Feb-16 17:14:47

I love that outwiththecrowd and will check her out.

This is a bit of Julian of Norwich, but there is so much more

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”

There's also a good novel, published recently, called The Anchoress, by Robyn Cadwallader, which is very good about that kind of life.

cheapskatemum Mon 08-Feb-16 17:10:01

I live quite near the site of her cell, so have visited the chapel there. It's a lovely place suffused with a peaceful atmosphere. I bought the book of her writings, but haven't read much of it thus far, you have reminded me to dust it off.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Tue 09-Feb-16 16:22:06

Carla I like the imagery in the passage you quoted. It brought to mind William Blake’s

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

Having now had a chance to google her and read some more of her writings, I can appreciate how vivid her visions were. She also seems to have had the ability to recall and write about them in amazing forensic detail.

What I like about her too is that she sounds non-judgemental and so forgiving of human frailty. Many Christian writers through history have adopted a harsher tone – God forgives you but really you don’t deserve it, you miserable worm, you! I can understand why you would find Julian’s warmer and more optimistic style comforting.

Cheapskatemum, does the cell feel like it might eventually become overbearingly claustrophobic?

In general the simplicity and (relative) solitude of the lifestyle appeal to me - although perhaps not year-in year-out! But I suppose in those days as a woman there weren’t many options if you wanted some peace and quiet simply to think. If you remained out in the world you’d probably end up taking your chances spinning the perilous roulette wheel of childbirth.

The only person I can think of in modern times who lives a less extreme version of this lifestyle is Sister Wendy Beckett, the art critic who used to front television programmes. I think she is more of a hermit than an anchoress though. Does anyone know of someone living as a full-on anchoress?

Cetti Thu 25-Feb-16 21:56:19

Julian of Norwich fan here (waves)

madmomma Fri 26-Feb-16 23:33:34

Aw yes I love her and often pick up her memoir for comfort. I also love brother Lawrence for the same reason

whataboutbob Fri 18-Mar-16 19:58:18

This is probably not much help but I remember my mum Georgina reading her (she died 21 yrs ago) and quoting quite a bit form her and being generally enthusiastic. And if my dear mum thought she was good, she was! I must read her, thanks for the prompt.

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