Love: Julian of Norwich

​During a time of severe illness, Julian (1342-1413) had a series of sixteen “showings” that all revealed to her some aspect of God’s love.  These were great comforts to her, and when she wrote them down, ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ became a source of ongoing blessing that has continued for over 600 years.

The richness of her experiences of God’s love cannot be captured in a blog post.  We must read her book for that, and even then we are left gazing into Mystery. Her visions are beyond words, even thkugh she did her best to write about them.  But it is Mystery which created in her (and in us) the desire to dwell in, grow in, and share the love of God.

Some have seen this statement as a summary of Julian’s experience, “Would you learn the Lord’s meaning in [the revelations]?  Learn it well: Love was the meaning.  And who showed [them] to you?  Love.  What were you shown?  Love.  Why were shown Love?  For Love.” [1] For Juluan, Love is the origin, motive, and content.  It is Love from start to finish.

God is the source of Love: “I Am the might and the goodness of the Fatherhood.  I Am the wisdom of the Motherhood.  I Am the light and grace that is all-blessed Love.  I Am the Trinity. I Am the Unity.  I Am the sovereign Goodness of all things.  I Am the One who moves you to love.  I Am the One who creates your longing to love and to be loved.  I Am the endless fulfilling of all true desires.” [2]

Julian’s contributions to our theology of love are many. But at the core is her reminder that God is the “All-in-all” of love.  Whenever we receive love or give it, it is God, God, God, all the way through. 

[1 Grace Warrack, ed.,] ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ (Methuen &Co., 1914), 29.  The book is available in a variety of editions and formats.  Because the original is in old English, I have modernized the quotations for this post.

[2] Ibid., 147.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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