"Christ, all love, you speak one word to us: Yes. Yes, I am with you. Yes, I always will be. Yes, in deepest sorrow. Yes, when you have lost your way, your sight, yourself. Yes, when you don't know what to do and when there is nothing you can do; Yes, today and tomorrow." ~Julian of Norwich
Over the weekend I had the privilege of 'being the voice' of Julian of Norwich, a 14th century mystic whose words seem to be long before their time as our sanctuary choir presented a lovely musical setting of her words. Her writing seems miraculous to me given the climate in which she lived, given the fact that she was a woman in a church ruled by those who would have much preferred she remain silent. Her life was plagued with great pain, both physical and spiritual. And yet she had the clarity of an experience of the Holy that rings throughout time. Her words reflect a broader understanding of God than the common church language, not only of her time but also ours, might allow. She used multiple images of God and blurred the often exclusively male language attributed to speaking of the Sacred.
But even more than those gender nouns and pronouns, her understanding of our relationship with the Holy One carries such acceptance, such grace, such gentleness. As I read her words during the concert, my eyes took in the faces, the beautiful faces of those gathered. I wondered about those who were listening. How were they experiencing these words? Did they seem foreign? Did a God whose one word to us is 'Yes' align with the the one they learned of in Sunday School, in sermons, in scripture? I also thought of all those people I knew who have been so wounded by the church. Those who cannot find a home in any faith community. Those who think that the rhetoric they often hear on radio and television spoken with anger and vengeance, voices claiming to speak for Jesus, is all there is.
To these people and to all people I offer Julian's experience of the Holy when she writes: "Yes, on this corner of my good earth and wherever your feet may take you. Yes, to the end of the earth and the eternity of time. Yes, for you are never abandoned. You are forever the unforsaken, the beloved, a cradled child. Mine. And my word to you is singular: Yes."
The 'Yes' of God carries us into the next days when we remember and celebrate the Way in which Jesus of Nazareth walked in the world. At every turn he offered a 'yes' to those on the margins, those left out, those who were hungry, those who didn't know where to turn. Like Julian, he embraced the 'yes' of the Holy in his own life and then extended that affirmation to all he met.
"My saints long before you clung to my "Yes" in circumstances unimaginable, amid joys inexpressible and griefs unbearable. And I was enough for them. I was their "Yes," and ever I shall be for you."