The Julian Poems
I’ve been feeling my faith in God being slowly unraveled and wound into new balls since I graduated from college. That’s really the image in my head when I think about it — yarn. (Guess my head’s really deep in handmade clothes!) When you buy new yarn, it comes in skeins — in order to use the yarn you have to unwrap the skeins and wind the yarn into balls, either by hand or using a simple mechanical machine called a “swift.” My faith was a skein, and I’m winding it into a ball, I’m knitting it into a sweater. Some people use the word “deconstruction,” for the sort of faith transition I’m talking about, but I wouldn’t call it that exactly. Usually the term deconstruction associated with faith connotes a sort of hinging doubt, a crisis, either abrupt or slow to unfold, and then a decision whether to continue differently than before or abandon the practice all together. Deconstruction is essentially undoing the faith of your childhood, the unchallenged “truths” and assumptions, and then looking at the rubble and deciding what’s next? But, like I said, I don’t think I want to use the word “deconstruction” for what I’ve experienced. It’s more like I spent my entire childhood building a house, solid but basic, but never living in it really at all. I’m moving into the house. I’m making major renovations. I’m hanging things on the walls, rearranging the furniture. I’m breaking it in. I’m inviting you over, please come have tea. It’s so different now than it ever was before.
My church blessedly has a women’s theology book club, and this month the email in my inbox told me that together we would be reading Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. “Ah,” I said. “So nice to really know I found my way to the right little church in the world.” I read Julian of Norwich for the first time a year or two ago, and my experience of her writings has only lengthened and deepened in the time since then. It’s the kind of book that gets stuck in your head, finds its way into unrelated thoughts, inspires the name of your business (ALL WELL Workshop!!), pops up as a helpful memory in all sorts of situations. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I became quite interested in the tradition of female christian mysticism, both medieval and contemporary, at the end of 2017. (You can read those essays, here, here, and here.) I don’t necessarily consider myself a mystic (who’s the gatekeeper of the term???), but I will say without hesitation that the writings of Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila and many others have taught me more about myself and about God than so many years of theological study did. I absolutely think this is because they are women, and I absolutely also think that it’s because I am something like them, that we are kindred spirits in some way. I’ve been learning about myself that I’m attracted to kindredness, that I seek people out in the world that have some ineffable thing in common with me, something I only know when I see it. That is what this is, these women are my sisters, and I am becoming who I am because they became who they were first and so generously and daringly wrote about it. And I deeply believe that they knew God intimately.
As I wrote about in this essay, I’ve been practicing midrash this year. I’ve been reading the Bible daily and writing poems in response, trying to imaginatively fill the holes in the stories, give voices to the voiceless, connect thoughts across testaments and centuries, seeing where my own life brushes up against the text. Each day I sit in front of a blinking cursor, ready to write a poem, I feel more bold, more sure of God, who every story points back to, whether lamenting or rejoicing. I’ve already gotten to ask in these poems some of my most terrifying questions, and each time I do I only feel more confident that somehow there’s a beautiful and long story of wholeness underneath. In reading Julian of Norwich again, I’m approaching it with much the same spirit. I’m approaching it with everything I have.
I’ve been thinking a lot about poetic truth. So much of my childhood faith-learning was based on historical truth and theological truth. What really happened, how does it really add up? Christianity felt like it had already been fully played out, in councils and concordances, in seminaries and cathedrals, every question answered *correctly,* every story cross-referenced appropriately. My creative heart was bored to tears — there’s nothing here to make?
But in a poem, what you write is true because you say it’s true, because in the world of the poem it is. In a poem, there’s a new universe with new rules, one that answers only to the writer, to their virtue and their hope. You can trust a poem only insofar as you trust the writer, and it’s a marvelously thrilling and tender thing to begin to develop that trust by reading a poet’s work. In some ways, besides form and tradition and style, the only real way to judge a poem, to decide if you like it, is based on the partnership of your own poetic truth with the poet’s. When a poem I read hits on my own poetic truth, it rings like a bell, it’s like I can hear it chime. The poet’s words strike me, make my own life and the way I experience the world vibrate all around me. The words ring true. The laws of the universe bend and crack, and I see new worlds, all things new.
Could it be that the universe is a poem? Could it be that our God is a poet? Could it be that the mystery of truth is poetry, truth we can’t grasp fully because it’s a universe that lives in the mind of God, and we need only trust the poet wholeheartedly and fall in love with every word and rhythm?
It’s a very interesting experience to be writing poems that intersect with faith — something at once so personal and so doctrinal. Where is the orthodoxy in poetic truth? I think that depends on the individual. I think it depends on trust. I love knowing that I’m reading the work of a person who is committed to orthodoxy, and who is also really working out their faith, who isn’t fully sure of every single part but who is deeply there for the process. That is when I hear it anew, that is when I notice new melodies. Those ones are the poems I love to read, the poet who has not abandoned orthodoxy, not at all, but who is also willing to go out on a limb, to ask the question with no answer, to challenge what’s always been “true” in the name of poetic truth.
When I read Julian of Norwich it’s like I’m at a handbell concert. It rings, over and over. The poetic (and orthodox) truth makes the most beautiful song. I hear what I already know to be true in such a new voice, with such a new body. I trust her. I believe her. We as a culture are beginning to center women’s stories or, at least, to believe them. Do we believe Julian, a medieval anchoress who says she experienced Jesus intimately? I do. I’m feeling poetic truth broaden my orthodoxy in the most beautiful way, in a way that makes me only more confident in the God that is love, the God who is mysterious, whose ways are not my ways, who is big enough to hold every question I can imagine.
Carol Lee Flinders, an incredible historian whose book Enduring Grace on the lives of seven women mystics has been the most important book I’ve read in the past few years, would agree with my experience. In her chapter on Julian, she writes, “all of the material Julian added seems intended to move the reader away from the sort of unexamined conventional religious beliefs that can impede genuine spiritual growth. At regular intervals, indeed, one prominent Catholic writer or another feels compelled to step forward and insist that Julian’s teaching really are orthodox. Their sensitivity on this point is understandable, because her teachings on sin and forgiveness and on the motherhood of God, which have won her a wide following in recent years, do not look like what most of us imagine ‘mainstream’ Catholic doctrine to be.” Julian’s writings do not purposefully defy orthodoxy, but they certainly stretch it to unknown territory, to new (non-patriarchal, I might add) places. Julian is genuinely seeking God. Her prayer at the very start is a genuine longing to be united with God through suffering and understanding. That is what she asked for, not some controversial platform to teach from. And though her visions revealed words of Jesus not found in scripture, I am moved by his words, by the way she remembers him. The Jesus she meets is the greatest poet of all.
As a deeply religious woman, she reverently and irreverently uses the language of her faith tradition to share what she saw, to make it make sense, and to challenge everyone that came into contact with her to begin to see things anew. Carol Lee Flinders writes, “Eventually, when she has experienced firsthand the truth that is a the core of her religion, she in turn draws upon the melange to frame and describe her own experience. Even as she is using the language of her own tradition, she alters it. Irreverently she corrects its excesses; reverently, she breathes new life into old doctrines. Because they open out and illuminate the spiritual traditions they inherit, mystics are our greatest liberators.”
Julian lived alone. She was an anchoress, meaning that she entered a cell in the church in her village and never left her chambers for the rest of her life. She is often depicted with a cat, her sole living companion. She had a maid named Alice who she mentions by name in her writings. She likely would have been able to walk in the church garden, and to communicate with all sorts people from her town through a little window into her cell where it was part of her work she would give spiritual advice. Her life was vivid, but small, the whole world in her church. You could look at this choice of hers and think it especially extreme (to live alone for the rest of one’s life!!), or it could be seen as a beautiful expression of the idea of “a room of one’s own.” Julian’s life as an anchoress gave her space to write and worship and contemplate God, something few other women of her day could do to the extent she did with noisy households and many children. She is truly remarkable — Chaucer’s contemporary, she was the first woman to write a book in English. Now we can read that book and get to know this woman who loved Jesus so particularly and intimately, who spent her life humbly teaching the people of her community, trying to share what God showed her. Her work sometimes reads like a letter, like a generous gifting from her straight to someone like me. I’m so grateful for my house of faith, built on the rock of the truth of the bible, and lived in with the warmth and hearth of poet women like Julian who come to have tea and tell wild tales of what it’s really like to see God face to face, to try to give language to a new sort of truth.
As I’m reading Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love again this month, I’m practicing a loose sort of midrash, writing poems periodically in response to what I read. There are endnotes after the poems with the passages from the text that each poem was inspired by. Italicized sections are direct quotes — usually the words of God or Jesus as recounted by Julian. These poems only account for about half of Julian’s visions (up to Chapter 32) — I’m hoping to finish the rest this month and maybe make it into a little zine. (Let me know if you want one!) Here’s the text of the Revelations in full, though you could probably find a more modern and readable translation from your local library. I used a more modern translation as the source text for my poems. For more on Julian (and other incredible women mystics), I really do recommend Carol Lee Flinders’ Enduring Grace.
The theme and content of each individual poem is taken directly from a passage of Julian’s Revelations. Imagine the poems as a creative paraphrase of the text, relying more on poetic truth and personal experience than skillful translation or trying to relay each piece of the text. As I read the text I’m unraveling the skein and re-winding it into balls with my own hands, what of this can I find in me, what is here to make? what do I know about this, what is mysterious, what is orthodox, what is true? I am learning so much just by being alive, by experiencing Jesus through others, through poetry, through the world, through my soul. I know that all will be well. I want to meet Jesus like Julian did.
the julian poems
Give me wounds, please in my life.
Cut me deep with three afflictions,
help me change, this way, something.
Give me contrition, compassion, give
me longing, show me how. It’s all already
painful, give me something to gaze upon.
Am I wrong to ask for something, for
a cut upon my skin?
I am dying and a young girl stands before me,
she is Mary, I am me, and we’re just two women
suffering in a small garden room. She is young,
before the moment, I am thirty, I am new. We
are so alike, we two women, practicing
reverence as we breathe, often lonesome,
always waiting for the ceiling to crash through.
Both so little under bigness, both so small and
ready to grow. See the grace dripping from her,
see it dripping onto me.
This hazelnut I hold is a mystery and I am a mystery woman.
It’s so miniscule and it’s all that is made, and I am suddenly
huge. That’s the mystery part, I understand small, but what
do I do about large? Who is here standing on my left or my
right, where is the giant to ask what is what? What made
me grow, what made this nut that I hold in my hand that
is all that I’ve loved? Somehow I am large in a miniscule
world, standing tall as the one who placed it in my palm.
I’ll write this down later and they won’t understand,
that I write with a pen that’s as tall as a tree.
Give me yourself, I will die if you don’t, I can never be filled
until I’ve met all of you. Give me eternity, this deep endless well,
let me fall off the cliff that is endlessly tall. I won’t be at peace
until a world without end where I have everything because o
I have you. I’m jealous, I’m needy, I demand who you are,
let me see you, and feel you, pull me into yourself.
Forgive me for my boldness, it’s just burning in me.
I need you to fill me, I need to be one.
I am not good, I don’t know what I did to receive
all these messages. I am not clever. I am not good,
and I don’t love enough, I know that I don’t. I’m
telling you this if you’re simple like me, if you’re
wondering what it is you are to do. We all need to
love, always more perfectly, and how in the world?
I’ll try to love you, that’s how I’ll try to begin.
Maybe all of us together add up to something true?
(a found poem)
i am god!
i am in all things!
i do everything!
i hold my work always in my hands and i will never let them fall.
i am guiding everything to the end i ordained for it from before the beginning of time,
with the same power, wisdom, and love, with which i created it!
so how can anything be amiss
righteousness is correct and complete
and I see god move in fullness, the world.
each object in motion, a dance of the earth,
in impossible sync, it all moves as one.
there’s no space for sin in this world that
I see, which leaves me confused, but I’ll
wait for that part. for now I am looking
at the world, all bound up together in
one tiny point that is god and is good
and is working at last.
there is no single thing missing.
are you entirely happy that i have suffered for you?
what can I say but yes?
if i could possibly suffer more, i would suffer more.
and i see my lord dying every death of every
indignity a human could face. every war, every
torture, every miserable pain, i see him walk
toward it with his eyes on my face. he is endless
in his dying, he is willing, he goes on, and keeps
dying here and dying as I stand alone and watch.
how should i not, out of love for you, do all I can for you?
it would not grieve me, since because of my love for you,
i would like to die often and would take no notice
of the agonizing pain.
pain is a moment and love is unending, and the
pain never equals the sum of the love. it’s a broken
equation where love is the answer and pain
multiplied keeps on working out love. the lord
is mathematician and I am a student scrawling
numbers on paper, charting triangles on graphs,
I can’t make a proof of how all this can happen,
and he smiles and tells me, these numbers
are my gift. I will add them forever and give them to you.
see how i have loved you!
alone here together and I am in love.
he shows me his side, he shows me his heart.
my heart is broken in two, just like his, for
he’s halved me with visions, with rejoicing,
with love. the best part about it is how
he looks at me, like i’m all that he’s wanted,
like i am his dream. he wanted me endless,
and that is what i am, and i feel like the
luckiest woman alive. all of his dying
so we could stand here, together in love
that is perfect and clear. it is romantic,
erotic and tender and everything that a person
could messily dream. if you could stand where
i stood you would understand how it feels
to be partnered with someone like this.
now all my bitter agony and all my painful work
has been transformed into endless you,
for you and for me.
(a found poem)
It is I, It is I:
It is I that is highest,
It is I that thou lovest,
It is I that thou enjoyest,
It is I that thou servest,
It is I that thou longest for,
It is I that thou desirest,
It is I that thou meanest,
It is I that is all.
It is I that Holy Church preacheth and teacheth thee,
It is I that shewed me here to thee.
- said by my lord,
It behoved that there should be sin;
but all shall be well,
and all shall be well,
and all manner of thing shall be well.
what am I to do with the sin in the
world? it almost is not, but the pain
covers all, there is no denying, yet
he looks so peaceful, so unconcerned
with the sin that I hate. my lord
takes our pain and wraps it all up,
closes it in a box in a cellar, alone.
to him it is small though to us it’s
the world, and the wellness is
the story that he sings about.
I can’t understand how this sin
keeps us low, I’m astonished at
how much we bear it along. He
sets it aside, he closes it up,
he buries it deep in the depths
of the sea. He says it is well. He
says it is well. He says it is well,
it is well, it is well.
a death for every sin, all those
ten thousand years of his dying,
he smiles and says it is well.
- I may make all things well,
I can make all things well,
I will make all things well,
and I shall make all things well;
and thou shalt see thyself that
all manner of things shall be well.
to cover every question, to silence
every doubt, and I wish so much
that it could be enough. But I keep
thinking of people and places
and things, such nouns that need
wellness, that are, as it is, so deeply
in pain, to which I hear him answer
yes, indeed, they’ll be well.
i hear in his voice a timbre of longing,
i see in his eyes a pulling ahead
toward a day I can’t see where the
wellness is ready, where we all stand
together and finally are one. we are not
there yet, we are here waiting, and my
lord he is torn between all that he is.
he knows what it is to have two feet
on pavement, to see gunshot and wailing,
to hear curses being yelled.
but he knows too that day that is coming
when all that he says becomes all that is true.
13. Something will happen, there is something they’ll do
that I cannot imagine, a hidden act.
you say I’ll see all of it with perfect joy
but as things are right now that is not making sense.
there’s a hole in the bucket and the grace flows right through,
never accumulates enough to let me drink what I need
and we’re all of us dying of thirst in this city,
we cannot imagine the hole plugged up
with some holy wax, an impossible dream.
and even then, how will we forget what we suffered,
and call it all good at the end of the day.
surely there’s judgement, surely there’s something
to fill all the holes that have been punched in our days.
the time that we lost, the hopes that were shattered,
the water that tumbled down into the drain.
every small grief, lost coin, bathroom weeping,
cruel word, death of dear ones, fearful hours, darkest nights,
will the lost things be given back to us jesus?
will you hand us all our sorrows like a magical garment
to wear in our splendor on that wonderful day?
14. You made us from nothing,
I forget that so often. Why shouldn’t
I believe that you can heal what you’ve made?
15. The most terrifying question, the one that keeps me up.
What am I to say of those who don’t turn their face to you?
Are my brothers and sisters to vanish?
Are they going then to hell?
I can’t imagine what that is but I hate it and wish it weren’t true.
I think of these things and I’m angry at you,
there’s no other way to say what I feel.
It’s the problem of evil, the age-old frustration,
the thing that has made some of my friends turn their face away.
Where’s the space in this wellness for the ones who say “no,”
or ones the church hasn’t relentlessly chased,
cultures far from the religion machine,
or, even worse, the ones it drove away.
What about them, lord? Do you long for them too?
Where’s the wellness for all of it?
What will you do?
All I can do is trust you to act. All I can do is believe
that they’re yours. I don’t understand you if you’re not
their God. The whole universe includes so many souls.
We all are a body, we all sing a song, we all need to live
in a beautiful city. When I think about this my whole body
heaves for the fear that there’s something that can never
be fixed. All that I speak are impossible things, full of bad
contradictions, arguments, heresies. I sound like a child,
I fear that I’m silly, but I’m asking these questions and
there’s nothing to say,
except that you’re possible,
except that you’re true
and if you’re not then you’re false and we’re all lost without you.
I don’t know how you’ll do it, but I know you will act.
If I know you at all, you’ll make all things new.
I’ll draw no conclusions, I’ll make no broad claims,
I stand with a hazelnut small in my hand,
and it’s all that is made, it’s impossibly safe,
it is endlessly loved, in my hand, which is yours.
(endnotes after the jump)
- These Revelations were shewed to a simple creature unlettered, the year of our Lord 1373, the Thirteenth day of May. Which creature [had] afore desired three gifts of God. The First was mind of His Passion; the Second was bodily sickness in youth, at thirty years of age; the Third was to have of God’s gift three wounds. (from chapter two)
- In this [Shewing] He brought our blessed Lady to my understanding. I saw her ghostly, in bodily likeness: a simple maid and a meek, young of age and little waxen above a child, in the stature that she was when she conceived. Also God shewed in part the wisdom and the truth of her soul: wherein I understood the reverent beholding in which she beheld her God and Maker, marvelling with great reverence that He would be born of her that was a simple creature of His making. And this wisdom and truth: knowing the greatness of her Maker and the littleness of herself that was made,—caused her to say full meekly to Gabriel: Lo me, God’s handmaid! In this sight I understood soothly that she is more than all that God made beneath her in worthiness and grace; for above her is nothing that is made but the blessed [Manhood] of Christ, as to my sight. (from chapter four)
Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazelnut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: it is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for little[ness]. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall [last] for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.
In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it. But what is to me verily the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover,—I cannot tell; for till I am Substantially oned to Him, I may never have full rest nor very bliss: that is to say, till I be so fastened to Him, that there is right nought that is made betwixt my God and me. (from Chapter 5, Revelations of Divine Love, Dame Julian of Norwich)
- Also our Lord God shewed that it is full great pleasance to Him that a helpless soul come to Him simply and plainly and homely. For this is the natural yearnings of the soul, by the touching of the Holy Ghost (as by the understanding that I have in this Shewing): God, of Thy Goodness, give me Thyself: for Thou art enough to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worship to Thee; and if I ask anything that is less, ever me wanteth,—but only in Thee I have all. (from chapter five)
- Because of the Shewing I am not good but if I love God the better: and in as much as ye love God the better, it is more to you than to me. I say not this to them that be wise, for they wot it well; but I say it to you that be simple, for ease and comfort: for we are all one in comfort. For truly it was not shewed me that God loved me better than the least soul that is in grace; for I am certain that there be many that never had Shewing nor sight but of the common teaching of Holy Church, that love God better than I. For if I look singularly to myself, I am right nought; but in [the] general [Body] I am, I hope, in oneness of charity with all mine even-Christians. (from chapter nine)
- See! I am God: see! I am in all thing: see! I do all thing: see! I lift never mine hands off my works, nor ever shall, without end: see! I lead all thing to the end I ordained it to from without beginning, by the same Might, Wisdom and Love whereby I made it. How should any thing be amiss? (from chapter 11)
- And this vision was shewed, to mine understanding, for that our Lord would have the soul turned truly unto[Pg 28] the beholding of Him, and generally of all His works. For they are full good; and all His doings are easy and sweet, and to great ease bringing the soul that is turned from the beholding of the blind Deeming of man unto the fair sweet Deeming of our Lord God. For a man beholdeth some deeds well done and some deeds evil, but our Lord beholdeth them not so: for as all that hath being in nature is of Godly making, so is all that is done, in property of God’s doing. For it is easy to understand that the best deed is well done: and so well as the best deed is done—the highest—so well is the least deed done; and all thing in its property and in the order that our Lord hath ordained it to from without beginning. For there is no doer but He. (from chapter 11, with quotations in text from modern translation)
- Then said our good Lord Jesus Christ: Art thou well pleased that I suffered for thee? I said: Yea, good Lord, I thank Thee; Yea, good Lord, blessed mayst Thou be. Then said Jesus, our kind Lord: If thou art pleased, I am pleased: it is a joy, a bliss, an endless satisfying to me that ever suffered I Passion for thee; and if I might suffer more, I would suffer more. (from chapter 22, with quotations in text taken from a modern translation)
- And also, for more understanding, this blessed word was said: Lo, how I loved thee! Behold and see that I loved thee so much ere I died for thee that I would die for thee; and now I have died for thee and suffered willingly that which I may. And now is all my bitter pain and all my hard travail turned to endless joy and bliss to me and to thee. How should it now be that thou shouldst anything pray that pleaseth me but that I should full gladly grant it thee? For my pleasing is thy holiness and thine endless joy and bliss with me. (from chapter 24, with quotations in text from modern translation)
- Our Lord Jesus oftentimes said: I it am, I it am: I it am that is highest, I it am that thou lovest, I it am that thou enjoyest, I it am that thou servest, I it am that thou longest for, I it am that thou desirest, I it am that thou meanest, I it am that is all. I it am that Holy Church preacheth and teacheth thee, I it am that shewed me here to thee. The number of the words passeth my wit and all my understanding and all my powers. And they are the highest, as to my sight: for therein is comprehended—I cannot tell,—but the joy that I saw in the Shewing of them passeth all that heart may wish for and soul may desire. Therefore the words be not declared here; but every man after the grace that God giveth him in understanding and loving, receive them in our Lord’s meaning. (from chapter 26)
And thus pain, it is something, as to my sight, for a time; for it purgeth, and maketh us to know ourselves and to ask mercy. For the Passion of our Lord is comfort to us against all this, and so is His blessed will. And for the tender love that our good Lord hath to all that shall be saved, He comforteth readily and sweetly, signifying thus: It is sooth that sin is cause of all this pain; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner [of] thing shall be well.
These words were said full tenderly, showing no manner of blame to me nor to any that shall be saved. Then were it a great unkindness to blame or wonder on God for my sin, since He blameth not me for sin.
And in these words I saw a marvellous high mystery hid in God, which mystery He shall openly make known to us in Heaven: in which knowing we shall verily see the cause why He suffered sin to come. In which sight we shall endlessly joy in our Lord God.
- For as verily as there is a property in God of ruth and pity, so verily there is a property in God of thirst and longing. (And of the virtue of this longing in Christ, we have to long again to Him: without which no soul cometh to Heaven.) And this property of longing and thirst cometh of the endless Goodness of God, even as the property of pity cometh of His endless Goodness. And though longing and pity are two sundry properties, as to my sight, in this standeth the point of the Spiritual Thirst: which is desire in Him as long as we be in need, drawing us up to His bliss. And all this was seen in the Shewing of Compassion: for that shall cease on Doomsday. Thus He hath ruth and compassion on us, and He hath longing to have us; but His wisdom and His love suffereth not the end to come till the best time. (from chapter 31)
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 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 fullness 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. (from chapter 32)
- 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. (from chapter 32)
And in this sight I marvelled greatly and beheld our Faith, marvelling thus: Our Faith is grounded in God’s word, and it belongeth to our Faith that we believe that God’s word shall be saved in all things; and one point of our Faith is that many creatures shall be condemned: as angels that fell out of Heaven for pride, which be now fiends; and man in earth that dieth out of the Faith of Holy Church: that is to say, they that be heathen men; and also man that hath received Christendom and liveth unchristian life and so dieth out of charity: all these shall be condemned to hell without end, as Holy Church teacheth me to believe. And all this [so] standing, methought it was impossible that all manner of things should be well, as our Lord shewed in the same time.
And as to this I had no other answer in Shewing of our Lord God but this: That which is impossible to thee is not impossible to me: I shall save my word in all things and I shall make all things well. Thus I was taught, by the grace of God, that I should steadfastly hold me in the Faith as I had aforehand understood, [and] therewith that I should firmly believe that all things shall be well, as our Lord shewed in the same time.
For this is the Great Deed that our Lord shall do, in which Deed He shall save His word and He shall make all well that is not well. How it shall be done there is no creature beneath Christ that knoweth it, nor shall know it till it is done; according to the understanding that I took of our Lord’s meaning in this time. (from chapter 32)
NOTE: This article was originally published on the blog Synchronized Swim on February 18, 2019