This morning found me in a quandry. I was pondering the quote above and my mind was going in circles: Am I really seeking God? Am I seeking Him wholeheartedly? What does it really mean to seek God? How will I know when I've found Him? Should I do more? No answers came readily to mind. All I knew was that I was feeling, once again, less than spiritual, less than confident, and certainly not ready to write a post that would be of help to anyone, including myself. "God," I prayed, "I know You want me to seek You. Help me know what that looks like."
I picked up Llewelyn's book, "All Shall be Well," my companion reader to Julian's own writings, and started reading a chapter that begins by discussing the "wrath" of God. The church of Julian's day taught that God was a God of Judgment and Retribution. But in all of her visions, Julian is only shown a God of love and compassion. After much pondering and prayer, she concludes that what we see as God's "wrath" is nothing but our projection of our own distress onto God, for the face of God is always towards us in love. It is true that we fall, but never outside of God's love. She is given this revelation as an example:
"I saw two persons in bodily form: a lord and a servant...The lord is seated in solemn state, at rest and in peace. The servant is standing by his lord respectfully, ready to do his master's will. With love, gracious and tender, the lord looks upon his servant and sends him to a certain place. Not only does the servant go, but he darts off at once, running at great speed, for love's sake, to do his master's bidding. Almost at once he falls into a ditch and hurts himself badly. He moans and groans, cries and struggles, but he cannot get up or help himself in any way. Yet, as I saw it, his greatest trial was that there was no comfort at hand; for he was unable so much as to turn his face to look upon his loving lord, in whom is full comfort; and this, although he was very close to him. Instead, behaving weakly and foolishly for the time being, he thought only of his grief and distress..."
It was then, as Julian says, that I had an "inward showing." I saw that I was like that servant, eager to follow God's desires, wanting to learn and grow, and digging into Julian of Norwich in an attempt to broaden and deepen. But in my desire to "make progress," I can often fall, especially when I imagine that seeking God depends more upon me than upon the working of the Holy Spirit in me. And when I'm stuck it's easy to get down on myself, and the focus subtly shifts from God to me. But as I was reading this story, I suddenly stopped and looked up and back. And there was God smiling - at me and the predicament I often place myself in. I saw that what I seek is always there: God's love, consistently and graciously pouring out on me.
Like a father looks at his young child, face contorted in concentration with a new task, and smiles with great delight on the earnest efforts, so God loves that I'm seeking Him in new ways. And today, I saw that smile.