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Calm in the Storm

Julian of Norwich by David Holgate at Norwich Cathedral

Julian of Norwich seems to be someone that people have either, heard of and know a lot about, or never heard of at all.

She lived in Norwich, England between 1346 and 1412. She became what was known as an anchoress, which means she lived in a simple room (cell) attached to a church in the city, you can still visit that cell today.

Julian was the first woman, whose work we have, to write in English. She had a series of visions in 1373 when she was laying, as she thought, on her deathbed. She expanded this writing about 20 years later into what we now have as “Revelations of Divine Love”.

She is best known for the phrase, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” This was not some sort of vaguely insane statement which ignored the reality of life but, rather, an encompassing of the reality in which people live in an overwhelming trust in the mercy of God.

In a world with so many questions people want easy answers. Some find these in dogmatism, others write off religion as an excuse to live in a fairy-land devoid of reality. Julian would have found these things disturbing. Whilst some of her language and images are rather florid to the twenty-first century mind they are undergirded by a deep understanding of God being with her, reassuring her and pulling her back in even as she was in her darkest hour.

All shall be well in not a panacea, it is a tough statement of love - but in God’s mercy it is true - however that shall be.


btw, for those interested, Norwich is pronounced with the emphasis on the "no) which is said with short a "o". The wich is more like "idge". No witches!

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