The Companions of Julian have been invited to write about the chosen phrase that links to their vow
This is another in the series.
“So, I was taught to choose Jesus for my heaven, whom I saw only in pain at that time.” Chapter 19 (long text)
I had heard of Julian of Norwich and for several years I had read portions of her writing, but it was in 2012 when I first read Revelations of Divine Love in its entirety. Shortly afterwards I was attending a retreat. Our leader mentioned Julian in one of her talks, so during a break I went to speak with her. I told her that I had recently read Revelations, and I asked her if she could recommend a book about Julian for me to read to better understand what I had read. She replied straight away, “Read it again.” I was a little disappointed in that response. I was looking for some expert to explain it to me, but reluctantly I took her advice. To this day I am grateful for her wisdom. I have followed her advice.
It was a real joy to learn of the fellowship of Friends of Julian of Norwich and become a member. Then when I learned of the Companions, I was encouraged to become part of the dispersed community who share a commitment to engage with Julian each day. It was a joy to be received as a Companion in 2018.
The first time I read Julian this simple affirmation spoke to my heart. In it I heard the promise that if I remained teachable perhaps I also could be taught in the same manner. I did not want to look away from the suffering of Christ on the cross. To choose Jesus on the cross as my heaven contains the grace to see my circumstances, whatever suffering I may experience, as full of loving and joyful potential. This new perspective gives me courage to be engaged with how God is at work with people who are suffering in this world.
I am learning that, though the suffering lasts a while, within it is also a joy that is eternal. I am beginning to glimpse what true contrition is. I am learning to listen for and act upon opportunities to express kind compassion. My daily reading of Julian fits well with my daily practice of Centering Prayer.
It is not unusual that within the Chapter I read each day I feel personally addressed and encouraged by what Julian has to say. I am currently reading through the Short text. This morning I read in Chapter Eleven, “Thus, I chose Jesus as my heaven.” The invitation here is to have the courage not to turn aside or to flinch at the reality of the suffering within the world. The love of God and the joy of heaven are contained within each moment. I may not always feel that, but Julian is teaching me to rely in faith upon that reality.
May 2020 would have been the third Julian Festival we were able to attend at the Shrine. Those plans were cancelled, but we still celebrated the Festival by hosting a Julian Festival via Zoom here in Florida. Along with several friends I had the opportunity to introduce Julian to twenty new friends. I was grateful to share that joy with them, and I continue to look for other opportunities to share Julian with others.
Stephen Hoffman CJN