Two weeks ago, as part of Good Shepherd’s “Calming the Storm” series of essays, my friend Mark Medley’s essay “The Psalter and the Mystic” reminded us of Julian of Norwich. He talked about the challenges she faced in her own life when she and her community many times faced plagues. Mark notes, “Julian is a witness to remain steadfast in the love of Christ in very anxious times.” He then shares her famous prayer.
In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss. In you, Jesus Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and savior. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace. You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us. You are our maker, our lover, our keeper. Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.
I have heard and myself cited often the phrase ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” How often do we hear it, just like that, without the broader context?
Julian is not offering some vague or ephemeral hope, she is not tossing words into the wind, she is stating a truth grounded in her knowledge and experience of God’s love and action. “In you, Father all-mighty… In you, Jesus Christ… In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit… You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.”
Today I noticed in particular the opening clause of that final, famous line. “Teach us to believe that by your grace, all shall be well.” This line alone, this clause alone, offers so much to contemplate and meditate upon.
- “Teach us to believe…” We still must learn how to believe. Teach us, Lord, daily how to believe.
- “…that by your grace…” The dangers, the struggles, the hardship are real, but so is God’s grace. The grace of Father all-mighty, Jesus the Christ, and our Lord the Holy Spirit is real and acting in this world as well.
- “…that by your grace all shall be well…” It shall be well, by the grace of God. It is not going to be well because of wishful thinking or even by hard work or effort on our part. It shall be well because our gracious and loving God will preserve, restore, and save us through Jesus Christ.
Julian knew far better than most of us what the ravages of this world could bring. And she knew, she had learned to believe, that God’s grace brings comfort and healing into this world and will carry is into the next, where all manner of things shall be well.