Feb. 16 – Julian of Norwich

In Chapter 51, Julian of Norwich describes an example that God has shown her of a lord and his servant, meant to mirror the relationship of God and Adam, the representation of al men. How does Julian interpret this vision? How does she believe that God views all men, and how does she view her particular relationship with God? Does this revelation make an impact on her overall interpretation of God in later chapters?

7 thoughts on “Feb. 16 – Julian of Norwich

  1. Julian interprets this vision as saying that God rewards those who face difficulty or failure and come back versus those who never try to do anything for him at all. This is seen when the lord believes his servant “should be verily and blissfully rewarded without end above that he should have been if he had not fallen” (357). She believes God views all men as one kind, including herself, and that it takes falling to create understanding. Her particular relationship with God took her illness to gain true understanding between her and Him.

  2. The 51st Chapter of Julian’s fever dream contains a vision of a lord and his servant coming to understand one another. As the lord sits at his table his servant is beset upon a series of errands which he repeatedly fails to complete. The author uses this relationship as the tool to describe how man comes to know God. Where in the beginning the servant does not stand beside his lord, upon continued sacrifice for his lord he, “now sitteth not the Son before the Father as a servant dreadfully adorned,unornly clad, in part naked, but he standeth before the father even right.” (361). Julian is emphasizing the humility it takes to live up to God’s expectations. The right way is not in this instance the easy way too. While we will never be perfect or worthy of knowing all of his intentions, our purpose must be to enact his teachings into our own lives.

  3. Julian’s vision of God and Man as Lord and Servant (respectively) instills in her a belief that God is truly a compassionate and loving God, not a vengeful one as is described in earlier literature. The compassion that the Lord shows for his servant who grievously injures himself attempting to fulfill his master’s wishes is interpreted by Julian as proof of God’s love for all mankind. “What harm and disease he hath taken in my service for my love, yea, and for his good will!… And else methinketh I did him no grace” (357). The concern that the lord shows for his servant mirrors God’s concern for man and evokes an image of God as one who wishes well for every human being, regardless of their failings.

  4. When she envisioned Adam, he was not only representative of the literal Adam from the Garden of Eden, but representative of all mankind. “For in the servant that was showed for Adam … I saw many diverse properties that might by no manner … be directed to single Adam” (357). Adam was described as as “wise servant” character, one who “saw inwardly that there was one thing to do which should be the worship of the lord (359). Adam, in her vision, was completely devoted to God, wearing tattered white clothing in penance for his sins and did God’s bidding willingly. He loved God, as she believed all men should first and foremost.
    Through describing her vision, Julian revealed how she believed God saw mankind. He loved Adam “which is his most loved creature” (358). He also has pity for Adam, as he needs a lot of guidance and mercy due to his ability to sin, to falter, to make mistakes.
    Julian of Norwich’s visions showed God as a kind maker, and showed people as humble and willing servants. Each loves the other and holds the other to a high esteem. Her visions were full of wonder and kindness, which gave Julian of Norwich hope in the days after her grave illness.

  5. Julian of Norwich interprets the vision that she received from God by saying that He grants honor and rewards those that are able to overcome obstacles or who try in general, then those who are not willing to do anything for Him at all. It shows that God is compassionate, kind and understanding and presents a relatable and loving depiction of His. Julian of Norwich explains God’s compassion by saying that if one tries to fulfill His wishes then they will be “blissfully rewarded…and thereby shall be turned into high and overpassing worship and endless bliss” (357). In the end through this narrative Julian of Norwich is able to instill hope and coveys a compassionate image of God.

  6. Julian centers her entire argument around the theory that God is just and compassionate. He also seems to view the relationship between lord and servant as the same as between Him and man. This places God as the one with the power in the relationship, but also suggests that man gets something in return. Lords provide shelter and food for their servants, and God provides life for men. Julian establishes God as compassionate, but also as the one with the power through this comparison.

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