In Our Dark Night: Mother Julian’s Words and a Grandson’s Drawing
It’s hard to write tonight.
The news is so distressing.
George Floyd’s tragic death is the tip of the spear.
We should all be coming together to fight the Corona virus —
and the other viruses of injustice, racism, and inequality.
We need wise leaders. We need change.
Will it happen?
Despair comes more easily than hope these days.
But we are not the first to live in desperate times.
Julian of Norwich, 14th century anchorite and mystic, was six years old when the Black Death
swept through her city, killing up to a third of the population.
Julian survived the plague but later became deathly ill at the age of thirty.
She is famous today as the author of Revelations of Divine Love, the first book by a woman.
The book describes visions Julian received while close to death.
After being given last rites, she had sixteen separate visions of Jesus,
enough to keep her contemplating and writing for 40 more years.
Her most famous words come back to us in our times of need:
“All shall be well. And all shall be well.
All manner of things shall be well.”
Songwriter and musician Meg Barnhouse has written a song that consoles me tonight.
I hope you hear in it the voice of the Mothering God Julian envisioned.
The same day my friend and pilgrim sister Janet sent me this song,
I also saw grandson Owen’s
sidewalk chalk drawing.
I asked Owen what inspired him to make this drawing.
“When we went on our walks around town, I saw other people writing encouraging words and making rainbows.
I liked that.
So I made my own in front of our house.”
Julian wrote a book. Meg Barnhouse wrote a song. Owen made chalk art. What do you do when the world seems wrong and you are sad, lonely, confused, or anxious?
Ironically, the last words my Mom said to me before passing was “Allas tschelt alright seh” I still believe it!
Sadly we still live in a world right now that is almost completely in the grip of satan since almost all actions by both sides of all disputes and controversy nowadays are controlled by the freewill decisions of people who have by individual freewill decided to serve satan and do evil.
It is clear to me that all public disputes are being used as Cloward-Pivin war strategy against the general population.
The TRUTH will set us Free and even when we have nothing left BUT GENUINE FAITH in GOD and The Holy Bible, it is all we ever really needed. Mom was right, everything will be alright.
Delmar, thank you for this story about your mother’s last words to you. She was already entering a new reality. There is much comfort in those words, spoken in her first language, confirming the promises of the Bible. First things and last things come together. With so much evil in the world, we must try to remember. Blessings to you.
When I am in distress I write in my journal. Things begin to clear up for me as I write. I recite the 23rd Psalm. I sit quietly and wait for the Holy Spirit to enter and to clarify my thoughts until I know that “all is well and all shall be well.” In very dire distress this is accompanied by fasting. Children, in their trust and innocence bring me joy. Like Owen’s chalk drawing! Thank you for sharing that! Made my day!
Thank you for saying Owen’s drawing made your day, Elfrieda. There is pure goodness and joy, even in this crying world. And when we see it, something in our spirits comes alive. Your practices inspire me. I have only tried fasting once. But something in what you say today has made me more aware. Maybe I will be called to this ancient prescription for clarity also. And the 23rd Psalm speaks more to me every year. Blessings to you.
Amidst the tumult, to nurture my soul and my spirit, I go outside. I usually begin with a purpose. At this time of year, I neaten up the garden beds. Lately, at dusk, I knelt at a small circular island surrounding a pin oak amid the green grass and pulled weeds until dark. Earlier in the spring, I prepared our raised bed and planted vegetable seeds — snow peas, spinach, lettuce and carrots. Such small, quiet outdoor tasks bring a sense of God’s peace.
My parents used to sing this song (in harmony): Now the day is over; night is drawing nigh. Shadows of the evening steal across the sky.
My German grandfather taught me this prayer when I was very young. I can’t spell the German, so here it is in English: I am little, my heart is clean, and no one shall dwell therein except Jesus alone. Amen. Everything felt all right when I listened to my parents or my grandparents sing or pray.
So, yes — I can trust that all will be well with my soul. I am a child of God, who loves me.
Karen, thank you so much for sharing these words. They have brought peace to my heart this morning, and I know they will do the same for others. I wish I knew a little bit more about you. Where you live, for example. I identify with the healing power of plants and gardens. And that song! I am glad Elfrieda read your comment and gave you the German. The first three people to comment all have German language backgrounds. Something to celebrate in how words can travel today. Blessings to you, child of God.
Karen, I know that prayer in German as well. It was the first prayer our mother taught us! Your mention of it brought back so many memories!
Here it is in German:
“Ich bin klein, mein Herz ist rein, soll Niemand drin wohnen als Jesus allein.”
Thank you so much Elfrieda. What a gift you have in your languages and stories.
Love this post Shirley. Shared it with Facebook and sang along three times. Tomorrow I’m going to take some chalk and draw a rainbow out in front of our little apartment complex and see if I can start a trend.
Hope all will be well sooner than later.
I wonder what town will be graced by your drawing? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could keep spreading love this way? Thank you and love to you too!
Like you, Julian of Norwich’s life has inspired me. I remember teaching her works to my students, but I don’t think they were as excited about her Revelations and Showings as i was. 🙂
Children in our neighborhood are doing chalk art on the sidewalk as well, none are as eloquent as Owen’s; he definitely has the gift of insight. Meg Barnhouse’s song reminded me of my daddy singing “Jesus hold my hand,” at the top of his lungs at the piano.
During these trying times, like you, I look for the good and always find it in scripture. Just this morning, however, I found another gold nugget: Crayola has come out with a box of 24 crayons featuring skin tones of children around the world. The aim, of course, is for kids to find the color that matches their own, while appreciating all the other hues. Perhaps we could start by sending officers in police departments to Crayola School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=dMKfhi931Ug&feature=emb_logo
As always, I’ve enjoyed your post and the comments it has inspired. Thank you, Shirley!
It’s been more than two months since I posted, Marian. So much has happened that I didn’t feel called to comment on. But last night, the song and the art and the news all came together.
Julian may be an acquired (with age and/or suffering) taste. Maybe today some of your former students would read her eagerly, or at least respond to this song with knowing.
The Crayola company should be complimented on the skin tone project. You and I grew up with a color called “flesh” that today makes our flesh crawl to think of its exclusivity.
So glad you still find sustenance in these musings, Marian. I return the complement to you.
Shirley — When I’m in a place of discouragement and overwhelm, I submerge myself in nature. In my experience, the two things that people yearn the most for are: (1) to love, (2) to be loved. It’s in nature that I find reassurance for both of these needs. “A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” —Mary Davis
Beautiful quote, Laurie. And nature truly is a source of soul solace.
I would love to read about how love reaches you in nature. It’s easier to feel one’s own love going out, I think, than universal love flowing in. Do you agree? Maybe you will answer this question in a future post!
Shirley — I will do my best to answer your question in a future post.
I’ll look forward to your response.
I’m facing a dilemma. Usually, when I need to find solace in a time of turmoil I do art, (sculpture) but alas, due to Covid-19 the shop is closed in our community and we are on lock-down. For 70 plus years feelings were best expressed through my hands, but now I receive inspiration listening to music and our virtual worship services. But it is hard, very hard, extremely hard, to find complete solace when the issues are so graphic. We all need the comforts of multi-media, whatever is available in our unique circumstance.
Thanks, Shirley, for your comforting writing.
I had not thought of the loss of one’s hands as an artist as a loss before your story here. But of course this would be “hard, very hard, extremely hard” not to be able to go into your shop. To be both locked down and attacked by graphic imagery of injustice and unrest from outside is very hard indeed.
Thank you for offering your thoughts here. I am thinking of you as I “life up my eyes to the hills” in front of me.
May your hands find some way to find solace as you avail yourself of the other art forms that can penetrate walls. Ultimately, we are reaching for love. And that never fails.
Blessings to you and Helen too.
Thank you for sharing the gift of this song, your words, and your grandson’s chalk drawing!
Thank you, Keaton. You know how grandchildren can penetrate your heart, especially when they try to offer hope to others.
Yes, trying times indeed Shirley. Owen’s chalk drawing makes me smile, thank you for sharing it. Nature and working in the garden helps for restoration for me, planting seeds in autumn and already seeing them sprout. The vegetable (new) garden has already given us spinach!
When I’m at my computer, invariably I play a Buddhist chant – Om Mani Padme Hum – it goes on for a few hours and I find it soothing as a background. It can be accessed on google and streamed.
Thank you for this lovely post and as always the comments add to it.
Thank you for adding music, and especially chant, to our collection here, Susan. You are sending me to my CD collection to find an old favorite. And I will stream Om Mani Padme Hum today as I write also, thinking of you in your autumn garden. I do so love thinking about people of peace all around the world. Namaste.
Shirley, thank you for this post and for sharing Owen’s drawing and his story behind it. It’s an overwhelmingly hard time right now. If I am aware of feeling overwhelmed (and that is not always easy for me to do–realize it in the moment), I do things like look for my kitties around the house and love on them; read something inspiring; listen to music; watch and try to identify the birds in my backyard; and walk outside. I like to be outside and close my eyes and listen to the natural sounds around me. As much as these things help, though, I wonder what I can DO to help the world.
Yes. Overwhelmingly hard, Tina. Thank God for nature indoors and out.
I have been working my way through this list of things to do. https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234
I find it encouraging to tackle something huge with something small. I started with item #1. I was happy to interact with my local police department through Facebook and was told that it is policy for officers in my city respond to all calls wearing body cameras. We have been having peaceful protests partly because the mayor and the police and the protest organizers are working together. May it continue to be so.
God bless and keep you.
Shirley, stirring is the word I’ll use to describe your post. Really nothing more needs to be said. But you asked a question, and I’ll answer for you. When I am distressed I either write or read with comfortable music in the background. My post this week speaks to a need I’ve had and the whisper that came to me in a quiet moment. I love those moments. I’ve been missing you and others during this pandemic, but we all seem to be at a loss for the words we should use for our feelings and beliefs. Thanks for calling Julian of Norwich to mind. I’ve read some of her works and find her a fascinating part of the global church’s history.
Thank you, Sherrey. I am heading over to read your story now. I have not posted here since the beginning of the pandemic. It was actually seeing Owen’s sidewalk drawing that made me finally decide to blog again. A little child shall lead them.
Beautiful post. When I’m feeling distressed and DIS-eased, I walk. Walk Walk Walk. Helps calm my soul and bring things into perspective. Walking is meditation to me/ for me. I also write – stores/poems/journal pieces/ gratitude vignettes. Sending out love to everyone of every race/creed/sex/. That helps.
Pamela,I just got back from a walk myself, and I agree that it has a soothing effect. I like to walk 3-5 miles a day. Writing also soothes the soul when it comes from a place of love and gratitude. I am grateful to YOU for showing up here and adding to our collective wisdom.