Reading Julian of Norwich in a pandemic
Julian was a woman who had chosen, and made fruitful, just such enclosure as my correspondent was now enduring. Julian was a woman in a city many times menaced by plague, ill herself, who nevertheless through and in that illness sought a new intimacy with Christ and found his wounds touching and redeeming hers. She was an anchoress who had found again her anchor-hold in God, holding strong and steady amid the tides of panic and blame which turned and shifted around her.
Indeed, she swam against, and helped to turn, a tide of bad theology. In a time when illness was deemed to be a judgement from God and a sign of sin, Julian prayed to be made ill that she might come closer to Christ. In an age that considered outbreaks of infection to be a sign only of wrath and condemnation, she discerned that Christ knows and loves and holds us even and especially when we suffer, and that his meaning, his intent towards us in all things, is only love.
Wisdom from Malcolm Guite. Don’t neglect to click the link and read to the end for Guite’s poem on Julian, which is lovely. I had been reading Julian independently in response to the coronavirus, and contemplated writing about her, but Guite has written a better version of the essay I was conceiving.