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In this vision he also showed a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and thought, “What can this be?” and the answer came to me, “It is all that is made.” I wondered how it could last, for it was so small I thought it might suddenly have disappeared. And the answer in my mind was, “It lasts and will last forever because God loves it; and everything exists in the same way 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 loves it, the third is that God cares for it. – Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
I return to this passage again and again for its vivid illustration of the love of God. I always find something deeply meaningful in the writings of medieval mystics because I stand in awe of the devotion and reflection of someone like Julian of Norwich, who chose a life of isolation to be close to God, in defiance of society’s expectations of women and religious expression. When I feel lost in a sea of uncertainties or overwhelmed by the demands of the world, I imagine all of creation, all the joys and struggles, all the beauty and pain, being held together in the palm of God’s hand. In the last sentence, Julian provides her own interpretation of the trinity with God as maker, lover, and carer. This vision provides a comforting sense of support and strength, but the context of this passage makes us further consider the insignificance of the material world in comparison to the love of God. I don’t mean to suggest that we renounce all worldly things to better devote ourselves to God, for I recognize God in the beauty of a fall day, in the fellowship of people, and even in the simple joy of a cup of tea. But in this time of Christmas preparations and consumer culture we should be reminded that material pleasures are temporary, and we find more lasting peace and joy in the knowledge of God’s grace.
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.—Teresa of Avila
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