All Manner of Things Shall be Well – On Julian of Norwich and Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day began early for me this morning.  I found myself sitting in the waiting area of a local medical laboratory just after 7am, waiting for my name to be called so that a technician could siphon off 4 or 5 tubes of blood.  It’s a strange feeling to start Mother’s Day sitting alone in a waiting room surrounded by strangers, waiting to get blood work drawn related to ongoing health issues that bring the reality into my life that it may quite difficult for me to conceive children should I ever marry. But the blood work needed to be drawn on a specific day to be accurate, and that date happened to fall on Mother’s Day.

I’ve seen a lot of social media and blog posts about Mother’s Day this week – the hard things, and the beautiful things. Posts from the people who have broken relationships with their mothers, and posts from the people who love their children dearly. Posts from those who have children waiting for them in heaven and posts from those who long to be mothers but have for one reason or another had that reality denied them.

I have mostly positive feelings about this day – my mom has modelled a life of following christ, through all sorts of circumstances, and I have no question that she loves me, even at the moments when our relationship, like all relationships at times, is tense.  I have two wonderful sisters-in-law who have made me an aunt to three special little people, and who are working out day by day what it means to love Jesus well in motherhood.  And there are a myriad of friends who have made me honorary auntie to their littles and who inspire me as they wrestle with life and faith and as they begin to teach their children to do the same.

That said, I have people who are dear to me who fall in each of those other multitude of categories that make Mother’s Day sting, and sometimes fall into more than one of those categories. And this morning, as I considered the reality of some of my health issues, I felt that sting just a little.  Not a sting that negates me from celebrating my own mom and those other dear mothers in my life, but one that turns me towards Jesus, asking, waiting, begging, questioning, wondering what it is that He has for me in this are where I feel deep and still unfulfilled desires.

I left the lab this morning and was sitting in my car, waiting for my next commitment of the day, and was browsing Facebook on my phone when I came across a post that reminded me that today is not only Mother’s Day, but also the feast day for Julian of Norwich.

According to Wikipedia (give me a break, I may have a church history degree, but it’s Sunday evening and Wikipedia will do just fine in the research department despite the horrified echoes of history professors of my past!) Julian was a late 14th century/early 15th century English anchoress and mystic, who had a profound encounter with Christ via a crucifix and had a series of visions.  From those visions she penned the first version of her “Revelations of Divine Love” which is believed to be the oldest surviving book in the English language that was written by a woman.

None of that is what caught me as I sat in my car this morning though. What caught me was that the person posting on Facebook about Julian’s feast day posted several of the most famous lines from “Revelations of Divine Love”.

They read:

God of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me.
And I can ask for nothing less that is to your glory.
And if I ask for anything less, I shall still be in want,
for only in you have I all.

All shall be well, and all shall be well,
And all manner of things shall be well.

I had part of the second stanza tattooed on the inside of my left wrist last summer. I put it there as a permanent reminder of my ongoing belief that in Christ all things are made whole and perfect – and thus “all shall be well.”

It’s more striking to me now, today, as I stumbled again across the lines in context, and considered the harder reality I was pondering.

“God of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me…” I went on this morning to attend mass after the lab appointment, and found myself praying those words of Julian’s as I knelt after receiving the Eucharist.  I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t know what my health holds. I don’t know if motherhood will be a possibility for me. There are many unknowns.  But today, in this moment, I am reminded that “…for only in Christ have I all.”  I’m going to hold on to that. As I navigate the way forward, and as I wait for test results, and as I ask Christ for the privilege of being a wife and mother someday, I pray that the words that I had indelibly inked on my wrist last August will serve as a constant reminder that He is enough, and only in Him have I all.

 

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