Three weeks from today we celebrate Good Friday, one of the holiest days in the Christian church calendar. Thanks to artist renditions and film directors' efforts over the years, the sight of the bloody face of Jesus is not unfamliar to many of us. Yet, it is is still discomfitting to come in Julian of Norwich's writings to her visions of Christ in his crucifixion, his body and face covered and dripping with "plenteous" blood. The blood of Christ as a theological concept is one that I'm comfortable with, but Julian requested to see Christ in his passion, and several of her visions are physically graphic.
In this vision, Julian is amazed at the quantity of the blood that flows from the body of her lord. There is so much of it that she imagines, were it real, it would soak the bed in which she is lying. It is so plenteous it "descended down into hell and burst its bonds", delivering all there which belong to the courts of heaven. It overflows the earth, and flows in all the heavens as well.
Julian's description of blood sounds floodlike. My oldest daughter responded to the frequent rain we've had this spring with an insightful post on her facebook page. Rain can be annoying, uncomfortable, depressing, but it is equally life-giving, refreshing, and nourishing. These constant rains are a powerful picture God at work in her life. Having just returned from Ireland (the Green Isle) she longs to be as verdant and vibrant as this land of continual rain. Let the rain flow, she says, to cleanse and bring new life and nourishment.
As I contemplate Julian's picture of the blood of Christ, I'm drawn to similar words - those of cleansing and nourishment. But how does that "really" happen? How does a phrase which has inspired multitudinous hymns (Power in the Blood, Nothing but the Blood, etc) move from metaphor to one's own lives? Lately I've been thinking of it like this: Blood is a symbol of life - the Old Testament writer states "the life is in the blood." And the giving of one's life is the greatest symbol of love that we have. Jesus says to his disciples right before He dies, that there is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends. So in this mathematical equation blood=life=love.
In a graphic way, Jesus showed humankind the extent of God's love through giving his life fully and freely. This love is "plenteous," continuing to flow to us today, accessible at any and every moment. God's love offers cleansing (forgiveness) by taking the consequences of the things that we've done and promising to make things right, healing and restoring all who walk in the path of love, and ultimately all of creation. It also brings us nourishment (power) so we can have all we need to live a life of "godliness"-full of beauty, truth and love. Do we need forgiveness? It is readily accessible. Do we need power? It is ours for the asking. The rain is falling; the blood is flowing. Love is plenteous, given by a God who desires us to live. Fully. Freely. Every day. Forever.