Friday, April 5, 2013

in our rags of light

that is to say:

from the fifty-first chapter of The Shewings of Julian of Norwich
Revelations to one who could not read a letter.  
Anno Domini 1373 :
". . . The lord sits solemnly in rest and in peace; the servant stands by, before his lord reverently, ready to do his lord's will.  The lord looks upon his servant full lovely; and sweetly and meekly he sends him to a certain place to do his will.  The servant, not only he goes, but suddenly he starts up and runs in great haste for love to do his lord's will, and anon he falls in a slough and takes full great sore.  And then he groans and moans and wails and writhes, but he may neither rise nor help himself by no manner way.

"The place that our Lord sat on was simple, on the earth, barren and desert, alone in wilderness.  His clothing was wide and long, and full seemly as falleth to a lord.  The color of his cloth was blue as azure, most sad and fair.  His cheer was merciful.  The color of his face was fair brown with fulsomely features; his eyes were black, most fair and seemly, showing full of lovely pity; and within him, a high ward, long and broad, all full of endless heavens.  And the lovely looking that he looked upon his servant continually, and namely in his falling, methought it might molten our hearts for love and burst them in two for joy.

"And yet I marveled, beholding the lord and the servant aforesaid.  I saw the lord sitting solemnly and the servant standing reverently before his lord, in which servant is double meaning, one without, another within.  Outward, he was clad simply as a labourer which were disposed to travail, and he stood full near the lord, not right in front of him, but in a part aside, that on the left.  His clothing was a white kirtle, single, old and all defaced, dyed with sweat of his body, straight fitting to him and short, as it were a handsbreadth beneath the knee, bare, seeming as it should soon be worn out ready to be ragged and rent.  And in this I marvelled greatly, thinking: This is now an unseemly clothing for the servant that is so highly loved, to stand before so worshipful a lord.

"And inward, in him was shown a ground of love, which love he had to the lord was even like to the love that the lord had to him.  The wisdom of the servant saw inwardly that there was one thing to do which should be to the worship of the lord.  And the servant, for love, having no reward to himself nor to nothing that might fall on him, hastily he started and ran at the sending of his lord to do that thing which was his will and his worship.  For it seemed by his outward clothing as he had been a continuing labourer of long time.  And by the inward sight that I had both in the lord and in the servant, it seemed that he was anew, that is to say, new beginning to travel, which servant was never sent out before.

"There was a treasure in the earth which the lord loved.  I marvelled and  thought what it might be.  And I was answered in mine understanding: It is a meat which is lovesome and pleasant to the lord.  For I saw the lord sitting as a man, and I saw neither mete nor drink wherewith to serve him.  This was one marvel.  Another marvel was that this solemn lord had no servant but one, and him he sent out.  I beheld, thinking what manner labor it might be that the servant should do, and then I understood that he should do the greatest labor and hardest travel that is.  He should be a gardener, delving and ditching, swinking and sweating, and turn the earth upsidedown, and seek the deepness, and water the plants in time, and in this he should continue his travail and make sweet floods to run, and noble and plenteous friuts to spring which he should bring before the lord and serve him therewith to his liking.  And he should never turn again until he had made this meat all ready as he knew it pleased the lord, and then he should take this meat with the drink in the meat, and bear it full worshipfully before the lord.

"And all this time the lord should sit on the same place abiding his servant whom he sent out.  And yet I marveled from whence the servant came.  For I saw in the lord that he hath within himself endless life and all manner of goodness, save that treasure that was in the earth, and that was grounded in the lord in marvelous deepness of endless love.  But it was not all to the worship until this servant had prepared it thus nobly, and brought it before him, in himself present.  And without the lord was nothing but wilderness.  And I understood not all what this example meant, and therefore I marveled from whence the servant came."

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