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May 21, 2020
In his book, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World, Theologian Bruce G. Epperly describes the lives, faith, and spiritual practices of saints and mystics in the difficult days of the Middle Ages. What he says about one of those mystics, Lady Julian of Norwich, is most applicable to these days of struggle, pain, and suffering caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Life was particularly difficult in the fourteenth century. Plague, death, and social upheaval characterized everyday life. Death equalized the wealthy and impoverished, and no place could offer escape from the ravages of disease. Scholars believe that unnamed mystic Julian of Norwich, whose name came from her cathedral home, lived through three plagues and may have lost her husband and children to the dreaded Black Death. Despite the tragedy and loss she experienced, Julian affirmed that God will redeem all things, all sin will be forgiven, and everyone will find wholeness in God’s everlasting realm.
Julian was painfully aware of life’s contingency. She no doubt saw thousands die from the plague. . . She survived a life-threatening illness. Still she trusted God’s promise, “You will be safe. You will not be overcome. All will be well.” God holds the future in God’s hands; what mortals plan for evil, God can turn into an opportunity for growth. God your Mother will protect you and God your Father will guide you through all the seasons of life.
Begin by reading Paul’s words in Romans 8:38–39: I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As a spiritual practice, consider your greatest fears and place them in the passage along with Paul’s list. For example, you may make affirmations such as:
Let go of your burdens, including your fear, guilt, and shame, to God and His wisdom and guidance that is greater than your own. Imperfection is inevitable in earthly life, but in the words of Lady Julian, “all shall be well.”
Spend some time with the following “Prayer of Awareness and Transformation”:
Holy God, you hold my time in your hands. Your providence guides the stars and my cells. Your compassion opens my heart to healing in the midst of pain. Help me rest in you, trusting the future in your care and giving comfort to those who mourn, hurt, and face personal challenge. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Bruce G. Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-Filled World (Upper Room Books, 2017) 98–101.
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