I read the short text of Julian’s Showings as part of my study for the spiritual direction course I am enrolled in. Now I have returned to this book to read the long text and am enjoying it much more.
There are times when my reading takes me places that I did not anticipate – mental places; spiritual places. Reading the long text of Julian of Norwich has done that to me. I suppose I should expect to encounter God in new ways when I take the time to sit with this kind of a text but I had already read the short text and it did not have the same effect on me. Maybe it is the detail she relates in the long text that took me farther into her own experience with God, allowing me to see some of what she saw. Not that I have visions as she did but through her revelations God also is revealing new things about himself to me.
At one point she relates how God appeared to her and revealed that his suffering for our salvation brings great bliss to him. She said:
For we are his bliss, because he endlessly delights in us; and so with his grace shall we delight in him…
And this was shown to me when he said: If you are well satisfied, I am well satisfied; it was as if he had said: This is joy and delight enough for me, and I ask nothing else from you for my labour but that I may satisfy you.
And in this he brought to my mind the qualities of a cheerful giver. Always a cheerful giver pays only little attention to the thing which he is giving, but all his desire and all his intention is to please and comfort the one to whom he is giving it. And if the receiver accept the gift gladly and gratefully, then the courteous giver counts as nothing all his expense and labour, because of the joy and the delight that he has because he has pleased and comforted the one whom he loves. P.219-220
I think it was the thought of God saying to her (and to me as well) that if she was satisfied with what he had done to win her salvation, then he was satisfied; that our acceptance of his gift brings God great bliss, that I connected with at a deep level. This is a level deeper than my intellectual understanding of what the death of Christ bought for us. In fact I have a hard time understanding all the theology around the doctrine of the atonement. For me this was at the level of experience where I simply became aware of and felt the love of God profoundly.