The Deacon at Mass last weekend preached on Mark 7:31-37, seeing and hearing, and Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) popped into my mind. Upon reflection, I realized his homily made me think of mindfulness and how often I don’t take in what someone is saying to me, how often I am really not listening attentively.
Julian came to mind because I see her as being a model for mindfulness.
One night, while asleep, she had fifteen visions or revelations, and she spent the rest of her life living in a cell attached to a church, reflecting on these visions and writing what God revealed to her (Revelations of Divine Love). She models for me how to pay attention, to pray, to reflect and to be open to hear and see.By spending time with the words and images of her visions or dreams, Julian was able to hear and see deeper meanings. She remained open to insights, and God did not disappoint.I spend time every morning in prayer and meditation, which often produces intriguing thoughts and images that I wish I could spend more time exploring for any deeper meaning and insight, but that luxury of unlimited time only happens when I am on retreat.
It is one of the things I love about retreats—all the time in the world to stay with one phrase or word or image, taking the time to notice what I notice and then allowing images to surface. Julian’s life was like that—one long retreat.
I envy Julian her life of solitude in the church tower. All day, every day to ponder God’s love.
That kind of dedication to God produced Julian’s ability to see the whole world, all of creation in something as small as a hazelnut.
I sometimes wonder what rich insights I could have if I dedicated more time to reflection. Would I be able to draw conclusions as Julian did? To trust God’s love for His creation and to know that all will be well?