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Revelations of Divine Love

Writing by Jessica Cave.

Below are found expects from a diary of Julian after and during her sickness. She titled her life in Chapters and titles. She was being treated by friends and a lover, Mari. 


the bodily sickness and the first revelation (chaps 3-4)

(chap 3)

And when I was thirty years old and a half, I was sent a bodily sickness in which I lay three days and three nights; and on the fourth night I took all the rights of the divine, and expected not to live another day. I felt a great reluctance to die, even if nothing that was in earth that was like me, I felt deserved to live. But no pain I was afraid of, even if I did not trust in what was divine or what was mercy.  

I endured each day, and by then my body was dead from the middle downward, and equal to my feeling. I was hoping to be set upright, supported with help, for to have more freedom of my heart to be at my will and thinking on while my life last. My bag was packed and ready for my ending, and before you came up, I had fixed my eyes to the ceiling so I would not speak at what was around me. You looked at my face and said ‘I have brought some image of thy Saviours: looke thereupon and comfort thee therwith’. You showed me a photo. I started crying and could not stop for three hours after. 

I thought I was well after that, for my eyes were set straight onto the ceiling of heaven, where I trusted to come by the mercy of some spirit. But nevertheless, when I set my face upon you, as I did reluctantly, I thought I might never again regain the strength to look upwards rather than straight forward again. After this my sight began to fail. It waxed as dark about me in the chamber as if it had been night, save in the image in your face, where you held a common light. All that was beside you was ugly and feardull to me as it had been much occupied with spirit fiends, I was sure. 

After this the upper part of my body began to die, to such an extent that I had no feeling. My greatest pain was shortness of breath and failing of life. Then thought I verily to have passed. And in this, soundly all my pain was taken from me and I was whole[1].I marvelled in this sudden change, for me, thought it was a secret working of some spirit and not of humankind. And yet by feeling of this ease I trusted. I swear never the moment I have lived, nor the feeling of this ease was no full ease to me, for I thought I was having been born from this world in that moment- my heart was wilfully set in motion. 

(chap 4)

And in one night, in a dream, suddenly I saw the red blood running down from under the garden, house, freshly, plenteously, and living, right as it was time for the garland of thorns to be pressed on your blessed head. 

You woke me as I was shaking. Thus I understood it for that time that you of your courteous love would show me comfort before the time of my temptation; for I thought it might be well that I should be tempted by fiends before I die – and I wanted to be. 

In this you brought Lady Mari to my understanding. I saw her ghostly in bodily likeness, a simple maiden and a meek, young of age, in her eyes I thought I could see the stature as she was when she was conceived. Also, you talked to me in part the wisdom and the truth of her soul, wherein I understood that she marvelled in great reverence that she was the only creature of her making. For this was her marvelling, that she was her own maker and only that that was borne of her was that which would be made. And this wisdom and truth, knowing the greatness of her maker and her littleness of herself that is made, made her to say full meekly ‘Lo me here, I am every woman’s handmaiden’[2]. In this sight I did understand verily that she is all there is to be in worthiness and in abundance of merit; for above her is nothing that is made, in beauty or in virtue, as to my new and old sight. 

the second revelation

(chap. 10)

And after this I saw with bodily sight in the face of me the wrong parts of passion: score, sputting, enfeebling, and buffering, and defiling pains, more than I can tell, and often changing of colour. And one time I saw how half my face, beginning at the end, was covered over in dried blood till it closed into the mid face, and after that the other half be closed on the same. I told Mari later, and we swore to never amount to the wrong parts of passion. We never wanted to face the blood without intention to see it. 

[The darkness of the sea-bottom, as Julian goes on to explain at length, is the figure of the darkness of sin which man has taught they had fallen to and felt the pressing of life’s disappointment, but man is still looked on lovingly and preserved by community grace and care

the seventh revelation 

(chap 15)

And after this she showed me a ghostly delight in my soul. When she looked at me, I was full of the everlasting sureness, mighty feeling without any painful dread. This feeling was so glad and so ghostly that I was all in peace, in ease, and in rest, that there is nothing in earth that should have grieved me. 

This lasted but a while, and I was turned and left to myself in my own creation of heaven and weariness of my life and weariness of myself, that underneath I could find the patience to live. There was no comfort but none other to my feelings but faith, hope, and charity: and these I had in truth but full little in feeling. And thereupon after you gave me comfort and the rest in soul, liking, and sureness so blissfully and so mighty that no dread, no sorrow and no pain bodily or ghostly that might be suffered distressed me. 

This vision was showed to teach me at my understanding that it is advantageous to some souls to feel on the wise, sometimes to be in comfort and sometime for to fall and to be left to themselves. I felt I deserved not to have this blissful feeling, but freely you have it when you willed, and although I was left to suffer alone sometime, both is one love. For it is your will that holds us comfort with all our might; for bliss is lasting without end, and pain is passing, and shall be brought to an end at some point.

the eight revelation 

(chap. 16)

After this Mari showed a part of her passion near her dying[3]. I saw the sweet face as it was dry and bloodless with pale dying and deed pale, languishing, and then turned more into blue, and after in brown-blue, as the flesh turned deeper into desire. For her passion showed to me most properly in her blessed face, and namely in her wet lips. Therein saw I these four colours, though that were before fresh and round, lively, and trembled in foreseeing to my sight. This was a painful challenging, to see this deep dying, and also her nose shrunken down together and panting, to my sight and touch; and the sweat in the body waxed it brown and black, all changing and turning out of the fever, fresh and living colour of her into a trembling death. For that same time she shook under my hand and tounge, wonder came into my sight; and what time was it but a time that the precious moisture came from her sweet body that might pass, yet there was a moisture in the sweet flesh of that I could see. Bloodless and painless and blowing of the wind and cold coming from the parts where our bodies were not met together, the moment shook by the process of time. And though this pain of loss hung bitter and sharp, yet it the moment it was full long-lasting, as to my sight. And the pain dried up all the lovely spirits of her flesh. Thus I saw the sweet flesh dry in my sight, part after part drying with marvellous grace. And as long as any spirit had life in her flesh, so long she glowed. This long grace seemed to me as if she had been seven nights here, and then I realised it had only been one night long. And to me, the thought of the drying of Mari’s flesh was the most pain and the most passion. 

[The contemplation of the stage-by-stage decomposition of Mari’s flesh occupies the whole of the next chapter

the thirteeth revelation 

(chap 27: Sin is behovely)

And after this you brought to my mind the longing to you before, I saw nothing in me but sin. This worrying thought was much to be forsaken, and nevertheless mourning and sorrow I made therefore without reason and discretion. But Mari, that in her vision informed me of all that I ever needed, answered by this words and said “Sin is necessary”. You echoed her words to me and said “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”. In this naked world our Sin is all that is not good, and the shameful despite and the uttermost tribulation that we bare in life, we do not need to adhere to these concepts of all. 

And the beholding of this, with all the pain that ever were or ever shall be – with all there I understood of the passion of Mari for the most pain and ever-passing. And all this was shown in touch, readily passed over into comfort. For in our good world no one should be afraid of ugly sight or touch. But I saw not sin, for I believe it has no manner of substance, no part of being, and it might not be known by the pain that is caused thereof. And thus, pain is something, as to my sight, for a time, for it purges and makes us know ourselves and ask for mercy from our fellows; for the passion of our fellow man is comfort to us all this, and so are each individual blessed will. And for the tender love that we have, we shall comfort readily and sweetly, meaning thus: “It is true that sin is the cause of all that is pain, but all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” 

This is a work of fiction largely taken as interpretation and lots of direct translation from Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. Nothing here is claimed as direct truth of what Julian said or is claimed to be completely fictionalised work. Direct translations made by me are taken from the Norton Anthology of Chaucer-Spencer and I have edited most of what I took. 

[1] Well, full, content

[2] Luke 1:38

[3] Dying as a metaphor for orgasm 

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