Finding Christ in Isolation: A Sonnet for Julian of Norwich

Icon of Julian with her cat by Br Robert Lentz OFM

The 8th of May is the feast day of Julian of Norwich, sometimes known as Mother Julian or Lady Julian. She was an English Mystic of the late fourteenth Century, living as an anchoress in Norwich.  Her life as an anchoress, finding Christ in isolation, and then finding that Christ transfigured that isolation into a communion of love, has been an inspiration for many in the current lockdown. Her ‘Shewings’, or Revelations of Divine Love, a series of mystical visions of and conversations with Jesus, remain a source of profound wisdom and a gift to the church, present and future. For a good introduction to her work I recommend Julia Bolton Holloway’s website, she is herself an anchoress in Florence, and Robert Llewlyn’s classic work ‘With Pity, not With Blame, now reprinted by the Canterbury Press.

This poem is from my book The Singing Bowl which you can buy on Amazon or order from any good bookshop.  Please feel free to use this poem in services, and print it in service bulletins, just include a brief acknowledgement that it comes from ‘The Singing Bowl’, Canterbury Press, 2013. Thanks

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button or on the title.

Mother Julian

Show me O anchoress, your anchor-hold

Deep in the love of God, and hold me fast.

Show me again in whose hands we are held,

Speak to me from your window in the past,

Tell me again the tale of Love’s compassion

For all of us who fall onto the mire,

How he is wounded with us, how his passion

Quickens the love that haunted our desire.

Show me again the wonder of at-one-ment

Of Christ-in-us distinct and yet the same,

Who makes, and loves, and keeps us in each moment,

And looks on us with pity not with blame.

Keep telling me, for all my faith may waver,

Love is his meaning, only love, forever.


From the Amhurst Manuscript of Julian’s showings

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Filed under imagination

12 responses to “Finding Christ in Isolation: A Sonnet for Julian of Norwich

  1. Judith King

    Love this poem Malcolm thank you. It really captures the spirit of Julian’s faith & spirituality. Thanks for the references too. Listening to you recite it was a lovely way to mark the feast day. Bless you. Judith

  2. Bill Everett


  3. Cynthia Jeanne Ford

    Glad to find you recovering from covid. My mother, gone now a year, the year you described losing your mother, loved this song about Julian of Norwich In these terrible days it is so good to be reminded of “the love that moves the sun and stars” with a sonnet as beautiful as this.

  4. Eleanor Haynes Prugh

    You have or have had or are having COVID? I read the above. That can explain the emptiness in my mailbox. So I hasten to whisper/shout your name to Our Lord God that healing with patience is sent to you, please dear Jesus.

  5. Coreen Michelle Froese

    So glad to hear that you are on the mend! I have appreciated your poetry over the last couple years. Do you know when you’ll be able to post the last section of David’s Crown sonnets? The ones you have shared became my regular evening devotional and brought me immeasurable comfort during some wobbly, anxious days. I go back to favorites often.

  6. Heather Seargeant

    “The wonder of “at-one-ment”….” That is both clever and beautiful. Thanks, Heather

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