Rejoicing in our salvation

The thing I love most about Julian is her wonderfully prosaic (could I say “poetically” prosaic?) sensibility:  Here is the passage of Julian near the end of the book to which I keep coming back:

“He loves us endlessly, and we sin habitually, and he shows the sin to us most gently; and then we sorrow and mourn prudently, turning ourselves to the contemplation of his mercy, cleaving to his love and goodness, seeing that he is our own medicine, aware that we do nothing but sin. I marveled greatly at this vision, for notwithstanding our stupid living and our blindness here, yet endlessly our gracious Lord looks upon us in this struggle rejoicing. And of all things we can please him best by wisely and truly believing that, and rejoicing with him and in him.” (Ch 85)

This endless loving of us, this endless rejoicing in us is not in any way sentimental, but a perception that is intent. As the preacher George MacDonald wrote, “Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot have its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more...all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed.” This corresponds to the truthful edge in Julian, one of the two poles that hold the fine tension that Julian is able to maintain, but that is sometimes lopped off in favor of the promise of Jesus that all shall be well. But if the integrity of that tension is compromised, the revelation to Julian cannot do its prophetic work.

As with the woman at the well, Jesus will bring us to all loveliness not by loathing our sin, or simplistically discounting it, but by showing us truth, loving us deeply and completely in that showing, and inviting us to agree. In this process of medicinal truth-telling and perception, it is important that we do as Julian counsels us, turning ourselves to the contemplation of Jesus’s mercy, cleaving to his love and goodness, and yielding ourselves to the touchings of the Holy Spirit who seeks to heal us.

The temptation is to turn ourselves instead to the contemplation of our sins, and to the sense of our own stupidity and blindness, which is often more real to us than anything Jesus may seem to have on offer. By living our life here simply, gratefully, perceptively; looking at Jesus and not at ourselves, rejoicing in the life and in each other as Jesus does, it is in this way we can honor Julian best. Thanks be to God for this gift of our life, who in giving us himself gives us all.

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