Posted in Being human, Monday / lundi / lunes / måndag / Monntag, Values & Ethics

Two Religious Traditions, Very Similar Message

A pslr left hand with blue shirt sleeve, holding a hazelnut.
A hand holding a hazelnut.
/./

And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”

Julian of Norwich, English medieval mystic, Revelations of Divine Love

Some people take this as meaning that God will take care of everything and we have to do nothing. My take on it is that we have been handed this one fragile little place, that we wholly rely on, and that we need to take care of forever or we are in deep trouble. Then I ran across this, in a context that gave it a very similar meaning:

A tarot card, "The Sun of Life" from the Wildwood tarot deck. It shows a human figure standing in front of a blazing sun, with yellow light coming from the sun and white light

The Sun Of Life is a tarot card I ran across as the most important card in a situation involving the way the world is right now. The card depicts the idea that everything important in life, humans get from sunlight and love associated with sunlight. It reminds me of my need for fire in order to be alive, but even more so reminds me of Julian’s vision. It’s a picture of so much of what we have to lose, and how important it is not to lose those things. Also the artwork is beautiful2.


Footnotes

1 I am neither Christian nor neopagan, but I respect both of these and other forms of religion and spirituality. That respect means that I ask others to respect other people’s belief or lack of belief (atheists and agnostics welcome. too). You don’t have to agree with me or anyone else, just please be nice to people.

2 Wildwood Tarot deck. Mark Ryan and John Matthews, card illustrations by Will Worthington.

A stained-glas-looking portrait of Julian of Norwich in her ancorhold with a cat, writing in a book.

Julian of Norwich

was a medieval anchoress, a woman’s version of a hermit nun in Catholicism in those times. An anchoress would obtain her last rites and then be walled up in an anchorhold which was usually part of the church. She would have had both rules and freedoms that other nuns did not have. She stayed in the anchorhold until her death. Julian also happens to be the first woman to write and publish a book in the Engilsh language. Her Revelations of Divine Love, or Showings, detailing her spiritual experiences and how they changed her life. She was sometimes controversial for things like calling Jesus “mother”.

Probably because of this kind of thing, she almost but not quite became a saint in Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism. But she is venerated in all of those denominations regardless of sainthood, and has been honored by these versions of Christianity.

Like many mystics, Julian was more concerned with her thoughts on God and theology than on getting personal recognition, so we don’t even know her name. Julian is the name of the church she lived in. Most of what we do know, is guesse based on what was probably going on when she was an anchoress. For many things, including whether she had a cat (anchoresses were advised to “keep no beast save one cat”), are just people’s guesses about her. But her hazelnut vision outlives her, and I seriously hope that everyone remembers we were given this little fragile world to take care of, it’s all we have, and now is the time, not years from now — we are already late but we can mkae a difference still.

Author:

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

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