And presently, after this, our blessed lord gave me again the comfort and rest in my soul, in delight and sureness so blissful and so mighty that no dread, no sorrow, no bodily pain that might be suffered should have deprived me of ease. And then the pain showed again to my feeling, and then the joy and the delight, and now the one, and now the other, many times - I supposed about twenty times." (Chapter 15)
Reading this chapter, I wonder what it must have been like to have been Julian of Norwich. God wants to show her something, and she has to experience it before it is explained. Feelings of bliss - ahh, this feels somewhat familiar. Feelings of despair - wait? what? Feelings of bliss - OK - feelings of despair - wait, is there some sort of pattern here? And again, and again, and again. I can't help but think of a teacher setting out an experiment for her students. See what happens when I put this chemical next to this solution? Now watch when I take it away. Now when I put it back.
God is graciously teaching Julian a lesson, and it's a good one for us all to hold onto.
Our feelings can be good indicators to us of what is going on in either our body or our psyche. Think, for instance, of anger, which may show us we've been hurt, either physically or emotionally, or that we should take action to combat a harmful situation. Or the sense of being uncomfortable, which may be like a fire alarm telling us, as the David Wilcox song goes: "Don't stop, don't wait, don't hesitate. Rule number one: Run!"
But there are times when our emotions are not so trustworthy. We wake up with a sense of loneliness, or ennui, or despair that is not based in reality. Like a morning that's overcast, our spirits are dampened. And if these feelings last too long (like this winter) we may despair that the sun will ever shine again. But even if this sense of being abandoned is strong, is not true. Like the sun which continuously pours out warmth and light, even when obscured by cloud cover, God's love is constant. He never leaves us alone.
(more after the break)