If Chaucer is the father of English poetry, then Julian is the mother of English prose.
This slim volune is easily read, impeccably researched, and relates what is known about Julian. The author is a course director in History of Art at Oxford University who has written and presented numerous BBC history documentaries.
Julian of Norwich was born in 1343, the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer, yet he is much better known. Her ‘Revelations of Divine Love’, the oldest surviving book written by a woman in English, is a spiritual autobiography as relevant, comforting, and thought-provoking today as it was in the 14th century. Julian was a mystic, and her writing is experiential rather than academic. Because she wrote within a Christian framework she calls the divine God, yet she provides inspiration for people of all faiths. She speaks of God as father and mother, who provides the unconditional love which is universal, including inside each one of us. I found much that reminded me of Sufi and Pagan beliefs, especially when she says “there is no created thing between my God and me”. Julian is quietly confident that no matter what happens “our heavenly mother Jesus cannot allow us that are his children to perish.”
The author gives the context for Julian’s book and marvels that the writing remains optimistic, hopeful, and positive, despite the death carts that must have trundled past her cell carrying victims of the plague. She reiterates that Julian’s words, which exist outside time will always ring true whenever and wherever they are read. I feel privilaged to have read such an excellent outline of Julian’s life, and to have had the opportunity to visit her rebuilt cell in Norwich.
“All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”