Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Julian & International Women's Day

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Today is International Women's Day, an opportunity to uphold the contributions of women in every sphere of life. It is also a day to reflect on the inequality which exists between men and women in much of the world. Canada is one of the best places for women on the planet, yet there are still disparities in income, opportunity for advancement, and security.

It was not my intention to feature Julian of Norwich in conjunction with International Women's Day but she is a wonderful exemplar, an imaginative woman of faith. While she used the traditional language of God as Father, she may have been the first to write about God as Mother: wise, merciful, restoring, renewing. Here is a description of Julian which is on the Julian Centre website, well worth checking out:

Julian of Norwich (1342-c.1416) is known to us almost only through her book, The Revelations of Divine Love, which is widely acknowledged as one of the great classics of the spiritual life. She is thought to have been the first woman to write a book in English which has survived. We do not know Julian's actual name but her name is taken from St. Julian's Church in Norwich where she lived as an anchoress for most of her life. We know from the medieval literary work, The Book of Margery Kempe,  that Julian was known as a spiritual counsellor. People would come to her cell in Norwich  to seek advice. Considering that, at the time, the citizens of Norwich suffered from plague and poverty, as well as a famine, she must have counselled a lot of people in pain. Yet, her writings are suffused with hope and trust in God's goodness.

It's interesting that Julian was respected as a spiritual guide, even though she was a woman in a patriarchal society.

Have you heard of Julian? Are you surprised that someone who lived so long ago spoke of God as Mother? Do we need to be more intentional in exploring the women "stars" of  our Christian faith?
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