One of my favorite mystics is Julian of Norwich (England) who lived from 1343 to 1416. Although voluntarily confined to a small, cell-like room called an “anchorage” in the courtyard of the church from which she took her name, she had immense freedom and was highly sought after for her wisdom. She reformed and re-visioned Christian doctrine into a universalism that focused on the goodness of both God/dess and humans.
Julian was the first known English-language woman author, someone who thought and wrote with a creativity that took her beyond the accepted teachings of her day. Despite that, her teachings were never disputed or retracted. Next month we will celebrate her feast day, May 8th, so she has been particularly on my mind.
Julian of Norwich saw the Savior as our true mother “in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.” She promoted the concept of “oneing” through her writings and visions. For her, there was no distance between the human soul and the Divine Presence. She wrote: “…all humans are oned, and one person is all people and all people are one person.” (Showings 51).
I don’t think there are any flowers assigned to or associated with Julian of Norwich, but I tend to think the essence of the Calla Lily serves her well. She taught that the fullness of joy is to behold Goddess in everything.
Calla lilies are not real lilies. They grow from bulbous roots, “tubers” we call them, with finger-like growths. These beautiful flowers originated in Africa and grow mostly in marshy areas. Locally you can see them throughout Golden Gate Park with a special concentration around Stow Lake. Although their official blooming time is late spring you can find them here beginning in winter with some still blooming into late summer.
The word calla comes from the Greek term for beautiful. Because of their unique shape every image created with the calla lily seems to capture the very essence of what we call “Beauty.” This is why I equate the flower with the writings and wisdom of Julian of Norwich.
Mother Sophia, Sister Julian,
unfurling Wisdom from stalk to petal,
Calla Lily of our soul.
You promise to unwrap your compassion
from our inner to outer light.
Your beauty and love are all we need desire.
Your passion and power are planted
in our vulnerability, sparking our oneing
in which we find impetus and strength
to grow into our full humanity,
interlaced with sacred story.
Bless us for the journey as your spirit
wells up in us from the center
of the earth, your body, our womb.
Maiden, Mother, Crone.
Prayer & images © Stacy Boorn
“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” – Julian of Norwich