philosophy

All Shall be Well

There's a great quote which has over the years given me great comfort, especially during difficult times and periods of 'trial' in my life.

Julian of norwich quote May 13

The quote, as you may see. is attributed to a Christian mystic and theologian called Julian of Norwich and it wasn't until I actually moved to the 'Fair City' of Norwich in the county of Norfolk in England that I took the time to find out more about her.

Julian lived in the 14th century and resided for most of her life in the city, which has a history as a commercial centre as well as a place with a vibrant religious life. 

So the story goes, it was when Julian - possibly not her real name although we don't really know much about her - was aged around 32 when she became seriously ill. It was the year 1373 and on her deathbed when she received a series of visions of Jesus, or what was described as "shewings" of the Passion of Christ - visions relating to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And actually it's on May 13th in 1373 that it's reckoned she received those visions which is why I'm thinking about this especially today.

Miraculously Julian recovered and wrote two versions of her experiences, one which we think was completed very soon after her illness and another written years later. The book was entitled Revelations of Divine Love. It contains a series of Christian devotions and thoughts.

Although she was probably religious before all this, it's thought the experiences eventually led Julian to become what is called an 'anchorite', or 'anchoress' living in permanent seclusion in a cell which was attached to a chapel known as St Julian's Church, Norwich.

Julian was not unique in her Christian calling and not the only person who chose this lifestyle. The anchorite was and is someone who withdraws from secular society to devote their life to intense prayer and the ascetic lifestyle where they choose a frugal life without possessions and 'sensual pleasures' in favour of spiritual pursuit and enlightenment. 

This choice to separate from ordinary life is not just a Christian concept, we find it in many religions but in the case of Julian and other Christians, becoming an anchorite ... a kind of hermit who stays one place ... was about a focus on the Christian Eucharist as well as prayer and devotion. Often these people became considered a kind of living saint. The earliest anchorites are recorded in the 11th century but by the 13th century when Julian was living, it's reckoned there could have been as many as 200 anchorites in England alone. The anchoritic life is considered to be one of the earliest forms of Christian monasticism and in fact some still exist today ... in the Roman Catholic Church it's described as one of the "Other Forms of Consecrated Life".

Regardless of the fact that she was separate from society, Julian did make an impact. Although she apparently preferred to write anonymously even in her own lifetime she was influential. There are surviving records of four wills in which she was named and there's an account by another celebrated mystic called Margery Kempe who writes about the advice and counsel she received from Julian.

While Julian remained separate, her 'anchorage' was attached to the side of the chapel so she was still able to play a part in the life of the church - she could receive communion and hear Mass. By the time she died, sometime after 1416, she had been in her cell for about 25 years!  

Although little known outside of Norwich and East Anglia in her lifetime and for many centuries,  Julian of Norwich's Revelations, including her second 'Long Text' in which she revealed a few personal details as well, have fortunately been handed down to this generation.  In the 17th century she became popular and loads of people translated her work. She did disappear from view for a while in the mid to late 19th century but was 're-discovered' in 1901 when a manuscript in the British Museum was transcribed and published with notes by an editor and translator called Grace Warrack.

Since then many more translations of Revelations of Divine Love  (which is also known under other titles) have been produced and Julian is now very popular. Her spirituality and thoughts and reflections appear to ring true with 21st century seekers after truth.   

Since 1980, Julian has been remembered in the Calendar of Saints in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on May 8th, and she is also commemorated on that day in the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the USA. While she has not been formally beatified or canonised in the Roman Catholic Church,  she is venerated by Catholics as a holy woman of God, and is sometimes referred to as "Saint", "Blessed", or "Mother" Julian.. In the Roman Catholic tradition her feast day is today - May 13th. And if you visit the magnificent Anglican cathedral in Norwich, at the West Porch you'll find a statue of Julian created by the local sculptor David Holgate and commissioned to commemorate the new millennium. 

There are many quotes from Julian of Norwich from her Revelations that have made it online but I still love this one more than others. 

Julian chose a hard, prayerful and thoughtful life but she was still a human being, a woman, and it must have been tough at times. Detached from the world, sitting in a cold cell in the perishing Norfolk winter and sweltering in the summer. Not following her own will, but that of God. 

Although I'm sure her resolve and faith were strong, she maybe at times did feel isolated and perhaps even, occasionally, wondered if she was spending her life usefully.

Most of us can recognise and perhaps empathise with those emotions.

So today I imagine Julian receiving this message and finding the comfort and peace and courage to move forward in life.

"In my folly, afore this time often I wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not letted: for then, methought, all should have been well. This stirring was much to be forsaken, but nevertheless mourning and sorrow I made therefor, without reason and discretion. But Jesus, who in this Vision informed me of all that is needful to me, answered by this word and said: 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." (The Thirteenth Revelation, Chapter 27)

 


Savour Being Alive

It's Monday and time to start a new week.

Now sometimes, we know, we wake up on a Monday thinking 'Oh no, not another week!'

Well I do anyway!

All the things I have to do, all the tasks I have to complete, the deadlines I need to keep to. All the people I might need to please ... you know what I'm talking about.

But I saw this thought from S.C. Lourie on social media recently and it really inspired me to think differently about Mondays.

So here it is!

Hope it inspires you too!

Happy Monday everyone!

 

Start of the week


Walk Away

 Not much to say today really ... just something inspirational to think about.

I don't know what you're going through at the moment ... but if this helps, then I'm glad!

Have a great day everyone!

Maturity inspirational quote


Day by Day

Just a simple thought today.

If you've having a tough week ... this might help ... 

One Day at a Time!

Just One Day at a Time!

Take life day by day


The Road Less Travelled

Have you ever wondered what might have happened if you had made different decisions in life?

Taken that 'other' first job rather than the one you actually began your working life with? Could that have led to an entirely different career?

Taken a risk and moved to another town or even country when you had the opportunity, even though it seemed like a ridiculous notion at the time? Might that have meant more adventure?

Carried on a relationship which you gave up with little fight because you had convinced yourself, at the time, that the person concerned wasn't 'for you', or that it wouldn't work? 

I have to say it has crossed my mind once in a while that life could have been very different for me if I had done 'that' rather than 'this', made alternative decisions.

What might have happened if, when I reached those inevitable crosses in the road, I had taken the left rather than the right road? Or the right rather than the left? Not that I entirely regret the decisions I've made, but it is curious, isn't it, to wonder what 'might have been'?

'The Road Less Travelled' is a saying which has entered our language which sums this up. What might have been had we made different choices?

The phrase comes from a great poem by Robert Frost  - a four time Pulitzer Prize winner - which is actually entitled "The Road Not Taken",

Whenever I read these lines, it certainly gets my mind whirling.

The road less travelled

 


A Hope and a Future

Over the years I've experienced many changes in my life. 

Some good, some not so great.

But there's a verse from the Bible which has walked with me and which never fails to give me strength and fill me with optimism.

Whatever valley I walk through, whatever uncertainty I'm feeling inside and whatever hurdles I face,  this verse from scripture not only comforts but challenges me.

God knows what He's doing, even if I have not a clue. There is hope, even if I can't feel or see it right now.

So today I share this verse, and hope if YOU need a word of encouragement or are going through difficult times, this will help you too, and give you the hope you need to get through today!

Have a great day everyone!

ForIknow the plans Jeremiah


A Prayer for Our World

Today, as we move towards the end of Holy Week ... and Good Friday tomorrow ... I'm just taking time out for a bit of reflection.

And I'm helped by a great prayer which reminds me of the need to let go of past hurts and to build a world of peace and hope, regardless of our race, faith and who we are.

Thanks to Rabbi Harold S Kushner for his wisdom.

Hope you love it as much as I do.

A prayer for the the world Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

 


Spy Wednesday

Today is Wednesday ... but not just any old Wednesday.

Some call today 'Holy Wednesday', others know it as 'Spy Wednesday'.  

But why? SPy Wednesday

Well, as you may know by now, this is Holy Week - or Passion Week. It's the time  Christians remember the final days of Jesus Christ on earth. From the crowds cheering him into Jerusalem on what we call 'Palm Sunday', to his trial and hideous death on a cross outside the city, in the company of criminals. 

But in between there are significant moments. We remember that in the last week of Jesus' life, he turfed out traders from the holy temple, he preached and taught, he spent time with his followers and friends. He was arrested and tried in a kangaroo court.

And somewhere in the middle, he was betrayed by one of his friends and followers, a man called Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the original 12 friends and followers, the disciples of Jesus. Hand picked by Jesus to share his ministry and learn from him, and eventually be there to continue the work and the mission when Jesus was no longer around. Judas had been with Jesus for three years.

So why did he turn against him?

Remember a few days ago I was saying that among the people who followed Jesus were those who hoped that he would be not just a teacher and preacher or even a miracle worker, but that he would become a focal figure in a revolution against the Romans and the Jewish religious establishment? Well, it's thought that Judas might have been among those who hoped his 'Rabbi', his spiritual leader, would be more than just a healer and an itinerant preacher.

But as Judas lived and worked with Jesus, he maybe began to realise that this gentle, charismatic personality didn't want or seek political power. He wasn't about that. He was about love and compassion and bringing people to God. His message was about community, and people being kind and helping each other out. He was about caring for the sick and the poor and the isolated. Jesus was about loving the unloved. Not about power and status, or money and possessions.

This must have frustrated Judas no end. Seeing the crowds around Jesus, he must have had hopes that it would become more. He disagreed with Jesus' generosity, and as the one in the group that looked after the money he was the man who criticised Jesus when he allowed a woman called Mary to pour a bottle of expensive perfume over him. This 'anointing' was a sign of love, but also a symbolic gesture that seemed to foretell the sacrifice that Jesus would make in giving up his life. But all Judas could see was the waste of money.

It must have been common knowledge among the followers of Jesus that he was putting himself in danger by going to Jerusalem. Jesus had narked off the religious authorities, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, and they were looking for a way to arrest him. But the sacred Jewish festival of Passover was approaching and they wouldn't want to arrest him in public, especially as Jesus was so popular with ordinary people. They risked a riot.

So they decided to get him while he was pretty much undefended.

Jesus and his followers, as Jews, would be preparing to observe the Passover. The festival begins with a meal - the Seder  - which is a ritual observation on the eve of Passover. This particular meal taken by Jesus and his friend has become known as The Last Supper. Then Jesus and some of the disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane - on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem - where Jesus wanted to pray. He knew what was coming and he needed that time apart to prepare himself.

But Judas had already gone. He'd been with the religious leaders, accepted thirty pieces of silver as a payment for betraying Jesus. After midnight, Judas arrived in the Garden accompanied by armed officers and other men provided by the religious leaders. Judas, as a signal of which person to arrest, gave Jesus a kiss. Jesus is arrested, turned over to the Roman authorities, tired, and within days is killed - crucified.

And, realising the ill he had done, Judas hanged himself. Perhaps he didn't realise the priests wanted Jesus dead. Regretting his part in the arrest of Jesus, he tried to return the money but the religious leaders refused to take it. Judas threw the money into the temple and hanged himself.

So today on this 'Spy Wednesday' we remember Judas and his part in Jesus' story. But that word 'spy' is so interesting.

These days we think of spies as secret agents, and Judas was certainly no James Bond. Not a glamorous personality at all.

But the word 'spy' means more  - it can also mean 'plant', 'snooper', 'fifth columnist', someone who is in a group but whose motives are to undermine the group. That could describe Judas. A spy in the camp. And the word 'spy' can also mean 'ambush' and 'ensnare' which is certainly what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Down the centuries, theologians and philosophers have discussed Judas' part in the events that led to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and Judas' motives. Greed? A love of money? A lust for power? Some sort of twisted theology? Some have even concluded that it was somehow in 'the Plan' - there are references in the Bible that Jesus knew one of his closest friends would betray him. That's hard to even think about. 

Judas has gone down in history as a pariah, an outcast, a devil.

But the question that always comes to my mind when I think about him is this ... am I so perfect?

Have I always been true to my faith, represented Jesus, been the person he might want me to be ... a person like him - loving, caring, compassionate, truth-seeking? Someone who thinks of others before themselves? And have I always stood up for my faith? Always stood up for Jesus? Have I never denied him, even by my silence when I needed to speak up? 

It's a hard one to face but on this 'Spy Wednesday', halfway through Holy Week, halfway to the crucifixion of Jesus and ahead of Easter ... it's a question I need to keep asking myself.

 

 


Be Gentle

I am a very fortunate person. 

I have many friends, all over the world. People from lots of different parts of my life - my childhood, my school years, my church and faith life, my working life down the years.

And since social media became 'a thing' I've been able to reconnect with so many people with whom I'd lost contact. These days, no matter where we are in the world or whether we are living through a pandemic which so restricts our lifestyles, we can talk to each other, support each other, encourage each other, all via the magic of the internet.

I know lots of people find social media toxic, and sometimes it can be. But I have to say on Facebook I'm generally surrounded by good friends. By and large, positivity reigns.

Recently I've shared some news on Facebook - I'm about to leave my job at the BBC and have a new work adventure. Long story short ... my contract with the corporation was up for renewal and unfortunately the offer that was made to me would have added more responsibilities to an already busy workload, so I decided not to sign the new deal.

Which means that of today (Friday March 26th) I will no longer work for 'Auntie'. 

So, last Sunday I put a post on my Facebook page, just to tell everyone. Although it was only a couple of days since it had all been agreed, the news had already begun to filter into the atmosphere, so I thought ...'I'll tell everyone'.

I don't have a job to go to ... I'm planning to return to the freelance lifestyle that I once enjoyed ... and I'm not made of money,  so a lot of people might find a decision to just walk away from a job hard to understand. But I was inundated with lovely messages. Messages of support and affirmation and encouragement.

Maybe that says something about how people perceive me. Those who have known me for a while may be aware that I'm not adverse to a bit of risk-taking and daring to go on new adventures, but they also know that I don't take these steps on a whim.

Being a person of faith, I'm a bit of a Pray-er ... so I have prayed a lot about this. I've thought much about it, to the detriment of my sleep. I've made my usual 'pros and cons' lists, which involves making two lists - one of the positives of staying in the job and the negatives of leaving it, another of the negatives of staying the in job and the positives of leaving. If you get what I mean.

And I've chatted to a few people, not to help with the decision, but to weigh all my options in the balance.

SO - decision made - I posted on Facebook. And, as I said, got loads of support and, I have to say, a little advice from a few friends. And that counsel was the same over and over.

Give yourself some time. Try not to rush into the future without resting a little. After leaving such a busy job which has made so many demands on my time and my energy, breathe a little before launching into new commitments.

But I think the most useful and thought provoking message I received was this  

Be gentle

I love this.

Being 'gentle'  means so much.

I'm encouraged to be kind to myself and not beat myself up about what's past and the decision I've made, especially in those moments - and they are bound to come - when I'm wondering what the (......!) I've done by giving up a well-paid job!

Being 'gentle' on myself encourages me to forgive myself if I begin to doubt my decision, but also to remain humble and not to think arrogantly and unrealistically about the future, but instead to take things a little cautiously.

I'm encouraged through this piece of advice to find peace within myself, and to  seek stillness in my spirit. 

I could go on ... but I'm sure you get my drift.

So as I enter this new phase of life, thanks to all my friends for their great encouragement and support of me in my new adventure and for their great words of wisdom.

But thanks especially to my friend Alison Fox for this particular thought which she shared with me. Alison is, among other things, a counsellor and psychotherapist - so she knows what she's talking about! 

And, as I move into this new chapter of my professional life, I will keep her advice and encouragement in mind.

And if, today, this thought helps you, please feel free to join me!

 

 

 


To Do List

It's a busy old week ... so much to do, so little time to do it all in.

So today I'm just giving myself a bit of advice to help me get through.

If you're having a stressful week too, I hope this helps! 

 

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