Contemplating his Passion, Julian perceived the very being of Christ streaming across the universe: on earth, a sustaining force; in hell, destructive (liberating); restorative in heaven.
Her hell-image is not of floodwaters dousing flames, but kinetic energy: a mass of water bursting barriers, breaking shackles. I seriously misremembered the passage when on a dawn country-walk I found a bonfire abandoned, but still going.
A lot of water would be required to make that burnsite safe: most of the liquid would vaporise instantly. But when you’re standing next to the Thames, H2O is there in abundance. All I had to do was improvise a pail, decide where I could reach the river safely, and draw-carry-pour as many times as necessary.
Which gave me plenty of time to think how God’s love, a bucketful at a time, quenches despair, fear, rage – all those things, if we allow.
The angel showed me Water-of-Life River flowing crystal-clear out of the throne of God. The banks were planted with Tree of Life, which produces abundant fruit year round. The leaves have universal healing properties.
Look and see what this precious and plentiful flow of his own dear-worthy life-force can do!
(Julian of Norwich, ‘A Revelation of Love’ Chapter 12)
Flood my soul, O Lord!
As yet you only trickle down
Your healing power on me.
Bring on the day
You open high
the sluice-gate on all
this hurting world
You love so much.
With respect to John Donne
Apparently carrying loads of water is good exercise for body, mind, and spirit – something about feeling the weight. At home push-ups against the furniture can have that relaxing effect. Or sitting with a weight in one’s lap. Not Julian’s book (too small): a cat; or a big Russian novel.
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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.