Dear Friends,

Some of you are aware that I have more than a passing regard for my names sake, Julian of Norwich,
14th. Century religious mystic and author of the seminal work ‘Revelations of Divine Love’. She
remains one of the most celebrated figures of the Middle Ages and is rightly esteemed for her
innovative and radical conceptions of God. Julian lived in a time of political, economic, and social
upheaval and a context where life could be both brutal and short, punctuated in turns by plague and
protracted military conflict. It is no small miracle that her theology of God, forged through personal
experience, learning and contemplation, is one that is replete with the idea of love, mercy,
compassion, and goodness – wrath and judgement are conspicuous by their absence in this text!

At the beginning of her spiritual autobiography, she prays for three wounds – the wound of
contrition, the wound of compassion and finally the wound of an ‘earnest longing for God.’ At
various points in her text, she explicitly states that the most important wound and the one that
remained throughout all her days was the passionate longing to know and experience God’s love and
to share this experience for the enrichment of her sisters and brothers in the wider Christian
communion. I have often thought that here in this ancient text lies a more than adequate maxim for
the Christian life of faith – to live with a passionate desire to know God and to make God known! For
Julian of Norwich this passionate longing to know God, came primarily through an intense
identification with the suffering and passion of Christ during a period of physical suffering –
eventually after many years of prayer and reflection, it leads to the lasting conclusion that the most
important and enduring attribute of God is love;
‘Be well aware: love was his meaning….’

As we enter this season of Lent, we have an opportunity and an invitation to seek God more deeply
and with greater intention. If you like it is a period of liturgical time that enables us to rekindle the
passionate longing to know and experience God’s nature in love, through a deliberate and obedient
identification with the cross and resurrection of Christ. We do so during political and economic
turmoil, in the shadow of a protracted military conflict in Europe and with all manner of anxiety
around day to day living. For Julian of Norwich, it is the intense devotion to the cross that leads her
to a spacious experience of the all encompassing love of God and to a profound belief in God’s
enduring goodness. Julian says in her revelations.
‘I saw that he is everything that is good and comforting and helpful to us. He is our clothing that
enwraps us and enfolds us, embraces us and wholly encloses us, surrounding us out of tender love,
so that he can never leave us. And so in this vision, as I understand it, I saw truly that he is
everything that is good.’

I do hope and pray that each one of us will use Lent well and that God might grant to us the grace of
an ‘earnest longing for God’ and that in our longing we shall experience such bliss in the revelation of
God’s love in Christ crucified and risen. This is good news for us and good news for the world..

With peace and blessing,