On this morning's stroll, I passed a simple stone labyrinth marked out on the desert sand. Intrigued, I decided to stop for a minute and walk the path laid out for me. As I reached the center I looked up at the mountain range guarding the horizon. Slowly I turned, embracing the amazing landscape of this valley floor, the horizon planted with mountain ranges in almost every direction. In the past I've thought of the middle of the labyrinth demarcating the center of one's journey inward, but it came to me that from the center we are also able to see the panorama. All points on the compass stream from this core place.

This morning's reading from Julian of Norwich centers her work, as it centered her life, in the knowledge of God's love. Here is is, with some comments below:

"Also in this he showed a little thing, the size of a hazelnut in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What may this be?' And the general answer came: 'It is all that is made.' I marvelled as to how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothingness, because it was so small. And I was answered in my understanding: 'It lasts and always shall because God loves it; and so everything has being by the love of God.'

In this little thing I saw three properties: the first is that God made it., the second is that God loves it, the third that God keeps it."

I remember often as a child my dad telling me, "Sue, no one knows you better than God and no one loves you better than God. So you can trust God with your life." Far from being insignificant to a powerful creator, we are deeply known, love and kept. How contrary this is to another message I have heard. which scoffs at any meaningful connection to a powerful, loving presence. After all, we're just one in several billion people on one of several million planets in one of several million galaxies. How dare we think we're special? Like the nut that seems not only diminutive, but also fragile, our lives can seem meaningless or forgotten.

This question of significance is not uncommon. I recall David's reflections in Psalm 8:

"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"

or the words of the prophet Isaiah at the conclusion of the well-known chapter from which comes stirring portions of Handel's Messiah. Here, the question of being hidden or forgotten is answered wiith some of the most powerful words in Hebrew scripture.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Julian's vision of our finitude is comforting contrasted by the greatness of our Creator. The focus is not on our fragility, but on the overwhelming largesse of this making and keeping love. Like the central space at the stone labyrinth, God'd love is the bedrock truth  gives us the vista from which to view our lives. Grounded in this love, we, like Julian, will not be uprooted.
3/16/2011 01:11:33 am

Great perspective, that from an 'inner' vantage point, the panorama can be seen. Another argument for the value of being 'centered'.

Also like JN's triptych: made, loved, kept. Thanks for bringing this to the foreground.

Rebecca Adams
6/21/2011 02:43:14 am

Love the picture of the small labrynth that looks like a brain. I too have walked into its center in the desert and felt the deepest "inside" as the point of clearest encounter with the "outside.'

I remember the day you wrote this when we were together in that very special desert retreat.


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