Monday, June 20, 2011

Julian of Norwich- Fourth Showing

This post is part of my meditative reading through Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Divine Love during my renewal leave.

In the fourth showing Julian briefly explains how God showed her that God chooses to wash us clean with blood rather than with water. At first this sounded a bit macabre to me, but after meditating on this passage for a while I saw a different side.

Julian talks about how God created water for many purposes out of love for us, but that his blood is simultaneously more precious and more plentiful than water.

As I thought more about this, it struck me that water is a created thing, just as we are. So of course God could use created things to redeem other created things, but in the Incarnation we see God inserting God's self into the created order. Jesus is God's ultimate act of self-giving.

Perhaps this is because as a created thing, I can possess and give all kinds of other created things and maintain the illusion that I am somehow in control. One of the reasons that religious institutions get so twisted and toxic is that we begin to believe that we are in control, and we leave God out of the process. But when God gives God's self, there can be no mistaking who is doing the giving, hence there is no mistaking who is in control.

Although Julian doesn't mention this, God choosing to redeem us through self-giving as opposed to through a created thing calls to mind the sacrament of Holy Communion. Celebrating Communion (both as celebrant and congregant) has always been very meaningful to me, because recalling the story of the Last Supper and proclaiming the elements to be infused with the real presence of Christ helps me temporarily forget the limitations of finite people and things and see everything as interconnected and animated by the living presence of God.

Until meditating on this showing, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to find the beauty that Merton and others found in her text, but I may be beginning to see what they see.

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