The photograph is not of the sea, nor even an estuary. That was the River Thames, forty miles further inland, during Storm Ciara (Feb 2020).
Looking at the river now, it is hard to credit there ever were winter gales. This spring, ‘sweet Thames’ really does run softly. Heron and kingfisher, otter and cormorant reign supreme.
In the 14th century, Norwich – though also well inland – was a major seaport, sitting on an inlet from the North Sea. Round about was marshland, known then as ‘the broad waters’.
As a young adult, Julian had lived through the great storm of 1362. Decades later, recollection of that catastrophe prompted her to feel more (not less) secure in God’s love. She reasoned that every soul that is to be saved will be brought to perfection (maturity) in Christ – and presented to the Father. Just not necessarily in ways we might like, or that we might choose if we were in charge of the enterprise!
The sea-bed was revealed;
the foundations of the earth were revealed.
One time, in my mind’s eye, I was led down to the seabed. There I saw a ‘mossy’ green landscape, with all the seaweed and the sand and the rubbish. I reflected that if a man or woman were ‘under the broad water’ and saw God ever present with them (as indeed God is) they would be quite safe, and totally reassured.
(Julian of Norwich, ‘A Revelation of Love’ Chapter 10)
God, when I need it, give me the grace to know that, however the adventure turns out, none of the experience in my life will be wasted – none of the experience in anyone’s life will be wasted.
For to know your all-sustaining love is the highest prayer.
Make a ‘virtual journey’ of prayer as you edit your old photographs, and old memories (some of them will be painful) come flooding back.
Share this reflection here.
A reflection from Jennifer Brooker ObJN, who has been a frequent visitor of Sarum College. She has a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford and master’s degree in theology awarded by Durham University.