Christianity for the Rest of Us

Christianity for the Rest of Us

Julian of Norwich: All Shall Be Well

May 8 is the celebration of Dame Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-1416?) author of the first English-language book written by a woman.  She was a shadowy figure, her real name and the facts of her life largely unknown.  For some reason, she took up the life of an anchoress–a solitary nun–walled into a cell in the parish church of Norwich, from which she took her name.  On May 8, 1373, Julian was struck by a devastating illness from which she nearly died.  During the sickness, she received fifteen visions of God’s love.  For the next twenty years, she reflected on these visions, recording her insights in a book called Showings, or The Revelations of Divine Love.  

Julian’s visions are remarkably contemporary–from a broadly inclusive understanding of God’s love for all to humanity to a profound theology of God as feminine.  “The deep Wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother,” Julian wrote, “in whom we are enclosed.”  She continued:

The mother’s service is nearest, readiest, and surest.  It is nearest because it is more natural; readiest because it is most loving; and surest because it is truest. . . Our true Mother Jesus, he alone bears us for joy and for endless life.  So he carries us within him in love and travail.


Of all the insights in her book, however, none is better remembered than a single remark.  In the midst of doubt, she commented, “All shall be well.  All shall be well.  All manner of thing shall be well.”

The words came down to us through T.S. Elliot’s great poem, “Little Gidding,” in which he describes contemporary quest for love as restless exploration until we come to “a condition of complete simplicity” where “all shall be well.”  Thus, the Lady Julian’s medieval assurance ends one of the most profound poems of modern doubt and faith.  And his words, borrowed from an obscure and unnamed woman, offered a vision of hope to a hopeless age.  Lady Julian, we are grateful to you.  
This post is adapted from my book, A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story, recently released in paperback from HarperOne.
Comments read comments(3)
post a comment
Debra Rincon Lopez

posted May 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

This article was a great read. I now better understand what’s happening in the choice’s of New Supreme Court judges. I don’t know if I agree with Obama’s choice yet? But, at least I can keep some of the past choices in mind and reason’s why others were chosen in mind for the future on this subject. I have learned alot in just this one posting, thanks from Christian lady in Portland Oregon USA.

report abuse


posted April 28, 2011 at 12:32 am

has save my life many, many times when I thought all was lost and I should be, too. Thank you, thank you…

report abuse


posted April 17, 2013 at 10:25 pm

I hope to see more posts like this!

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Christianity For the Rest of Us. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: The Supernatural Life Prayer Plain and Simple Happy Reading!!! ...

posted 9:10:37am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

Ash Wednesday: Lent Begins
A poem to begin your Lenten observance from one of my favorite Anglican poets.  May you hunger and thirst this season for a closer connection with God and a deeper love of neighbor.  "Lent" by Christina Rossetti (c. 1886)It is good to ...

posted 9:14:36am Mar. 09, 2011 | read full post »

God in Wisconsin: Scott Walker's Obedience
As the stand off between workers and Governor Scott Walker continues in Wisconsin, religious leaders have weighed in on the dispute.  Roman Catholic bishops came out on the side of the unions, urging the governor to protect worker's ...

posted 1:22:27pm Feb. 25, 2011 | read full post »

Beck and Billy Graham: Stealing the Blessing
Glenn Beck met with Billy Graham on February 19.  Beck is a Mormon, and a self-made leader in the re-emergent Religious Right and Tea Party movements, and Graham is a Baptist evangelist, long-time esteemed leader of ...

posted 12:04:06pm Feb. 22, 2011 | read full post »

St Brigid Day: Raise a Pint!
February 1 is St Brigid Day, Ireland's female patron saint.  Brigid (d. 525) was an abbess and founder of the great monastic communities at Kildare, a leader in early Celtic Christianity, and is venerated in both the western and eastern ...

posted 9:06:26am Feb. 01, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.