All Will Be Well: A Book Review

All Will Be Well: A Book Review December 12, 2013

Book Review for The Showings of Julian of Norwich: A New Translation by Mirabai Star

Lady Julian is a longtime friend and teacher to me. She has been since I first read her Revelations of Divine Love in seminary. I wear a ring on my right hand that tells me “All will be well,” and I am able to turn the inner circle around the outer frame as a prayer or in times of anxiety. So I went to meet this new translation by Mirabai Starr with eagerness, but also with some trepidation; would a new take on this 14th Century mystic reinforce my love relationship with Julian, or would it deconstruct and tear it apart in some way?

I found the same winsomeness and simplicity about the love of God for humans that Julian seems to know in her entire being to be just as beguiling and inspiring as it was when I first read it in the 1977 edition, translated and introduced by M.K. del Maestro. Julian is clear in any translation that God wants us to know that he loved us before he even made us, and this love has never diminished and never will. This book of 86 short reflections on this theme shows me a concrete example of what it means to be a true contemplative, to allow one powerful encounter with the Holy One to become the north star of one’s life with the Spirit. Starr captures the gentleness and trust with which she holds the revelation given to her, mulling it over and over, letting questions arise, being content with as much insight as she is given, and letting it teach her over the course of 20 years.

I wondered again what the reasons are I am so drawn to a 14th Century mystic, living in solitude in an enclosed cell adjacent to a cathedral in a war torn and infested town, when I am a daily participant of freeways, social networks and endless cycles of world news. What I rediscovered is that it continues to enrich and challenge me in Julian’s on-the-ground trust that the God that we worship is loving and trustworthy, and longs for our joy in our belonging and in our encounter with that Holy One. While asserting continually that she follows the teaching of the Church as she knew it, she is unafraid to advance her own personal witness to the Motherhood of God in Jesus Christ, and her belief that sin has no substance or real power. She has no need for internal consistency as she explores joyfully each person of the Trinity, what each person does and has. She also cannot believe in a vision of God that is punitive, judgmental and cruel. Her experience of God in her showings is of One who has endless compassion and capacity to forgive and correct.

In this new translation I missed some of the old familiar phrases translated more directly from Middle English, but I appreciated greatly Starr’s Note on Translation that gave her rationale for her own translation choices. She did not change the message. In this Advent season I am delighted to recommend still and again the simple, trusting, life affirming, and God-in-Christ honoring work of Lady Julian, in this fresh translation. May it bring hope and joy to its readers!

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