Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Julian of Norwich- Seventh Showing

This post (my 350th!) is part of my meditative reading of Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Divine Love during my renewal leave.

In the seventh showing, Julian experiences an emotional roller coaster that one might today see as symptoms of manic depression or bipolar disorder. In her depression, Julian acknowledges that while the comfort of God’s promises was there, it wasn’t terribly helpful when she found herself in so dark a mood. That might be another way of saying she knew those things in her head, but at the time her heart just couldn’t get on board with it.

Julian’s depression doesn’t last long, however, as she finds herself on a spiritual high of total certainty in God’s protection. She concludes that “it is profitable for some souls to experience these alternations of mood” so that they can know how God sees them through everything they experience, even when that experience seems like separation from God.

As someone who suffers bouts of very bleak depression, I can identify with Julian’s feelings of hopelessness and her conclusion that God walks with us through those dark places. I differ with her, though, in her belief that God causes such emotional states so that we can learn something about the nature of God. Suffering is an unfortunate fact of living in a fallen world, and it is not God’s desire that we go through it. God works to make the best out of even the worst situations, but that doesn’t mean God wanted it to happen in the first place. Still, Julian’s conclusion that coming out on the other side increases one’s gratitude for God’s sustaining grace is right on.

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