God’s Love and the Fruit Salad

Excerpts from Julian of Norwich

God's Love and the Fruit SaladOne morning early, while making my fruit salad, the sentence “All is well, all is well, all is very, very well” continued playing through my mind.

 I was suddenly reminded of a very beautiful booklet I read years ago, ENFOLDED IN LOVE – daily readings with Julian of Norwich. Despite the name, Julian was a woman, later sainted in the Anglican church. She lived in the 14th-15 centuries, and her book The Revelations of Divine Love, is believed to be the FIRST BOOK EVER WRITTEN BY A WOMAN IN ENGLISH. Here are a few statements which brought me such incredible peace, both in general and also in relation to Rogers’ situation.

 “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

He is our clothing. In his love He wraps and holds us. He enfolds us for love, and He will NEVER let us go.

He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with my mind’s eye and I thought, “What can this be?”

And the answer came, “It is all that is made”. I marveled that it could last, for I thought it might have crumbled to nothing, it was so small. And the answer came into my mind,

“It lasts and ever shall be because God loves it”. And all things have been through the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three truths. The first is that God made it. The second is that God loves it. The third is that God looks after it.

What is He indeed that is maker and lover and keeper? I cannot find words to tell. For until I am one with Him, I can never have true rest nor peace. I can never know it until I am so close to Him that there is nothing in between.

The best prayer is to REST IN THE GOODNESS OF GOD, knowing that that goodness can reach right down to the lowest depths of need.

He who made man for love will by the same love restore him to his former blessedness – and yet more.

The love that God most High has for our soul is so great that it surpasses understanding.

No created being can comprehend how much, and how sweetly, and how tenderly our Maker loves us. God is the still point at the center. There is no doer but He.

All this He showed me with great joy, saying “See, I am God. I am in all things. See, I do all things. See, I never take my hands off my work, nor ever shall, through all eternity. See, I lead all things to the end I have prepared for them. I do this by the same wisdom and love and power through which I made them. How can anything be done that is not well done?”

God wants us to know that He keeps us safe through good and ill.

We shall see God face to face, simply and wholly.

I saw in truth that God does all things, however small they may be. And I saw that nothing happens by chance but by the far-sighted wisdom of God. If it seems like chance to us, it is because we are blind and blinkered. …

Constantly and lovingly He brings ALL that happens to its best end.

All that is done is well done for it is done by God. When a soul holds on to God in trust – whether in seeking Him or contemplating Him – this is the highest worship it can bring.

We are His joy, His reward, His glory, His crown …

It is God’s will that we should rejoice with Him in our salvation, and that we should be cheered and strengthened by it.

He wants our soul to delight in its salvation, through His grace. For we are THE APPLE OF HIS EYE. HE DELIGHTS IN US FOREVER, and we shall see in Him, by his grace.

Peace and love are always alive in us, but we are not always alive to peace and love.

He says this: “Pray inwardly, even though you find no joy in it. For it does good, though you feel nothing, see nothing, yes, even though you think you cannot pray. For when you are dry and empty, sick and weak, your prayers please me, though there be little enough to please you. All believing prayer is precious to me. “

Sometimes it seems we have been praying for a long time and still do not have what we ask. But we should not be sad. I am sure that what our Lord means is that either we should wait for a better time, or more grace, or a better gift.

I saw that God never began to love mankind. For just as mankind is destined to come to endless joy, and so crown God’s delight in His work, so man in God’s thought has always been known and loved. From Him we come, in Him we are enfolded, to Him we return.

In this endless love, man’s soul is kept safe as these revelations set out to show. In this endless love we are led and looked after by God and NEVER SHALL BE LOST.

GOD, OUR FATHER AND MOTHER.

In our father, God Almighty, we have our being; in our merciful mother we are remade and restored. Our fragmented lives are knit together and made perfect man.

“It is I, the strength and goodness of fatherhood. It is I, the wisdom of motherhood. It is I, the light and grace of holy love. It is I, the Trinity. It is I, the unity. I am the sovereign goodness in all things. It is I who teach you to love. It is I who teach you to desire. It is I who am the reward of all true desiring. “

A mother may sometimes let her child fall and suffer in various ways, so that it may learn by its mistakes. But she will never allow any real harm to come to the child because of her love….
When we fall, He holds us lovingly, and graciously and swiftly raises us up. In all this work, He takes the part of a kind nurse who has no other care but the welfare of her child. IT IS HIS RESPONSABILITY TO SAVE US. It is His glory to do it, and it is His will we should know it.

Utterly at home, He lives in us forever.

He did not say: “You shall not be tempest-tossed, you shall not be work weary, you shall not be discomforted.” But He said: “YOU SHALL NOT BE OVERCOME .” God wants us to heed those words so that we shall always be strong in trust, both in sorrow and in joy.

As by His courtesy God forgives our sins when we repent, even so He wills us that we should forgive our sin, and so give up our senseless worrying and faithless fear. … If we fall, we are to get up quickly; for the worst pain a soul can have is to let sin take it away from God.

Looking at another’s sin clouds the eyes of the soul, hiding for the time being the fair beauty of God – unless we look upon this sinner with contrition with him, compassion on him, and a holy longing to God for him. Otherwise we must harm and disquiet and hinder the soul that looks at these sins.

The greatest worship we can give Him is, in penitence, to live gladly and GAILY because of His love.

When we have fallen … it is not His will … that we should busy ourselves too much with self-accusation, nor is it His will that we should despise ourselves. But He wills that we should quickly turn to Him. He is quick to clasp us to Himself, for we are His joy and His delight, and He is our salvation and our life. … Therefore, it is His will that we turn quickly to His gracious touch, rejoicing more in the fullness of His love than sorrowing over our frequent failures.

In God’s sight WE DO NOT FALL; in our sight we do not stand. As I see it both of these are true. But the deeper insight belongs to God.

When the time of trial has passed, suddenly our eyes shall be opened and in the brightness of light we shall see fully. This light is God our Maker, and the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus our Saviour. “I love you, and you love me, AND OUR LOVE SHALL NEVER BE BROKEN. “

If there be anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe from falling, I know nothing of it – for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always held close in one love.

He showed Himself often as a king, but chiefly in man’s soul. Here He has made His resting place and glorious city, a throne from which He will never rise, nor even leave.

In this love without beginning he made us, in the same love He protects us and never allows us to be hurt in a way that would lessen our joy.

When judgement is given and we are all brought up above, then we shall see clearly in God the secrets now hidden to us.  In that day, not one of us will want to say: “Lord, if it had been done this way, it would have been well done (=better, PP).”  But we shall all say with one voice: “Lord, blessed may you be. For it is so, and it is well. And now we truly see that all things are done as ordained before anything was made.”

(The following is for me one of the most powerful passages as it shows Love to be the cause or motive, means, and end or intention of everything that exists. That we exist out of pure love, as love expressed, to love all for the sole glory of love -PP)

From the time that it was shown, I desired often to know what was our Lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after and more, I was answered in inward understanding, saying: “Would you know your Lord’s meaning in this? Learn it well. Love was His meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did He show you? Love. Hold fast to this, and you shall learn and know more about love, but you will never need to know or understand about anything else for ever and ever. This did I learn that love was our Lord’s meaning.

And so I saw full surely that before ever God made us, He loved us. And this love was never quenched nor ever shall be. And in this love He has done all His works, and in this love He has made all things profitable to us, and in this love our life is everlasting. In our making we had beginning, but the love in which He made us was in Him from without beginning, in which love we have our beginning.” (End quotations from Julian of Norwich)

Source: Enfolded in Love, daily readings with Julian of Norwich, Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1980. Her major work, Revelations of Divine Love, was published in the Penguin Classics series.

The following passage from the comments at the end of the book seem to me to have a special relevance to Roger, with the one (major) difference, i.e., that Julian’s cell was self-chosen, and Roger’s was not. (PP)

“She shut up all her life in the narrowness of one room, but because that room was open to God, the maker and redeemer of all men, she was able to embrace all mankind and the whole world in her thought, in her care and in her love. She had been freed from that prison of self-preoccupation which can follow us wherever we go, however far we go…. From the window of her cell, too, she gave counsel and comfort to the burdened and perplexed.”

Roger’s book is the window of his cell. From this window he has inspired, uplifted, brought to repentance, healed, strengthened, rejoiced, so many all around the world. And we all know through his letters how often he embraces those who suffer in the Third World and elsewhere (including locally) in his love and prayers.

Messages of Life from Death Row, available from Amazon.com