We can be assured that God’s love indeed means that all will be well,but here and now this truth must be held in faith rather than full understanding. Julian of Norwich
In my last post, I described how at a silent retreat I was wrestling with big questions and learning to rest in the truth of “All Shall Be Well,” a phrase first written by the 14th century Christian mystic Julian of Norwich.
She too never received a direct answer to her questions, except to be told that whatever God does is done in love, and therefore "that all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."
All Shall Be Well. Not as a trite platitude or a cross-stitch on the wall but a truth imbedded in your soul. A truth that can acknowledge that the present moment may not be well.
The second takeaway from silent retreat came from a nut (not me).
The woods, sky, and trails around the monastery in winter were starkly beautiful: monochromatic gray-browns with splashes of evergreen. I crunched through dry leaves, pine cones, and nuts as I hiked through the rolling woods and fallow farmland. I brought an acorn back with me and did the simple spiritual practice of a visio divina.
What words came to mind as I observed this nut?
That expressed how I felt as I went to the retreat. I long to do great things for God but the clock is ticking and it feels like I’m getting smaller, harder, more cracked, and less useful. How can a cracked nut make a difference? One benefit of age is the ability to live in the tension of two seemingly opposing truths (antinomy). To see current reality and to trust that it's not the end of the story. The reality is that I am small, insignificant, unnoticed, and that is good and biblical. Jesus began as a small, seemingly insignificant baby, noticed by a few shepherds and foreign kings. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus sought out the small and insignificant, noticed the unnoticed, rewarded those who did small things well, and commended the smallest seed of faith.
I feel cracked and discarded but I never will be because Jesus was crushed and rejected so I can be wholly acceptable to God.
As to being unfruitful, it’s a question of timing. One of my deepest, most consistent prayers is that I will bear fruit that will last. That kind of fruit takes time and the willingness to fall (or fail) and die. The seed does not see the fruit. What feels like failure and death can be the beginning of life.
Isaiah understood that tension. He comforts those who mourn in (and for) Zion with the truth that they will be called the oaks of righteousness, planted (as acorns) by the Lord, glorifying him, returning and repairing the ruined cities. (Isaiah 61)
The acorn calls me to a life of small things done faithfully over a long period of time.
As Mother Teresa is quoted, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” With the faith that God’s small, broken acorns grow into the oaks of righteousness, rebuilders of the cities, restorers of people, and “reforesters” of the land.
“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Faith stays rooted in a story that looks and feels impossible.
Julian of Norwich, who had no idea her writings would bear fruit seven centuries later, describes in her Revelations of Divine Love, “seeing God holding a tiny thing in his hand, like a small brown nut, which seemed so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it did not crumble before her eyes. She understood that the thing was the entire created universe, which is as nothing compared to its Creator, and she was told, ‘God made it, God loves it, God keeps it.’”
No matter how small, insignificant, unnoticed, flawed, and unfruitful you feel, the truth is
God made you. God loves you. God keeps you in the palm of his hand.
And sometimes your cracks reveal the cross.
We can be assured that God’s love indeed means that all will be well, but here and now this truth must be held in faith rather than full understanding. Julian of Norwich
Where in your life do you need to hear All Shall Be Well? To remember that God made you, God loves you, God keeps you?