Marie Laure, Return from Exile: Revelations from an Anchoress in St Augustine, Eugene, OR: Resource Publications (An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers), 2021

Luke Penkett writes:

Return from Exile is an engaging story of two women speaking from self-imposed exile, separated by seven centuries and the Atlantic Ocean. Marie seeks to understand why her counterpart, Julian of Norwich, lived from middle to old age in a cell – an anchorage, or an anchor-hold – attached to a church during the pandemic of the fourteenth century, the Black Death. Marie’s ‘anchorage’ is a river porch attached to a townhouse in St Augustine, in North-East Florida.

How had Marie come to end up in quasi-exile? Like Julian, Marie also keeps a journal, trying to understand what had happened during a near-death experience. Making a pilgrimage to Norwich, Marie first visits the cathedral and meets the librarian there. She arrives at the cell and is confronted by the words etched in stone: “Thou art enough for me.” The words go deep.
Truth is, she is not able to speak those words. Why had she come? Her handwritten words, “For my heart to heal,” spoke across time when read aloud in the anchorage. Marie realises at that point that she is a pilgrim and not an anchoress. “Anchoresses stay put; pilgrims are free to go. I felt it a great relief to be a pilgrim, free to get up and walk out of that cell” (p. 90).

On returning to Florida, she is, six months later, to encounter a global pandemic, a plague of our time, throwing everyone into exile, creating distance between folk, and compelling loved ones to reunite.

This is the second book in Marie Laure's Serendipity Series, following explorers of serendipitous moments on the continuum of shared spiritual stories. Out in June, this was a heart-challenging but ultimately heart-warming book with which we are called and enabled to ‘enrich each day with wisdom from [one of] our greatest spiritual thinkers.’

Rev. Dr Luke Penkett, CJN, ObJN,

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