Doug, Mary, and Julian: A Pass, a Present, a Future

I have been on the phone with several people lately where the bottom line is that no one expected the world to be as it currently is and so one does one’s best, working with what is and practicing the creation of a “loose plan.” If this, then that… If not this, then an alternate that…If neither, adjust. In all, Julian of Norwich.

Doug Flutie gave the “Hail Mary” to college football history in 1984. In this case, what has become known as the game’s Hail Mary was his last moment prayer of a pass, a pass made in the moment of hope beyond hope, nothing to lose, do your best, launch the ball, and count on someone being there to receive your prayer of a spiral. For the record, Boston College won the game…on a 48 yard 6 second faith-filled maybe. History was made.

(Also for the record, I think I have just nearly maxed out my historical sports-based knowledge. To those who read this and know me well, please, pause a moment in appreciation…)

I think Covid-19 could be Julian of Norwich’s moment in popular culture. Born in 1343, Dame Julian was an English Anchorite, living in…Norwich, and authored the best known extant book written by a mystic, which is also thought to be the first book in English written by a woman, Revelations of Divine Love. In the 27th chapter of her 13th revelation, Julian writes:

In my folly, afore this time often I wondered why by the great foreseeing wisdom of God the beginning of sin was not letted: for then, methought, all should have been well. This stirring was much to be forsaken, but nevertheless mourning and sorrow I made therefor, without reason and discretion.

But Jesus, who in this Vision informed me of all that is needful to me, answered by this word and said: It behoved that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Julian might have lived in self-isolation, but a blind Pollyanna she is not. This book was written in near seclusion by someone who in her lifetime had lived through the devastation of the Black Plague, various revolts and social upheavals, and a life threatening illness of her own. What she holds onto is the possibility of something other. The faith that surely there must be something…other than what is. And that other will be where all can be held, can be cradled. Where all is welcome. But as to when that will come about…

Note, her timeframe is shall be…at some eventual point…having lived in a world where people weren’t necessarily making the best of choices—injustices, thoughtlessness, classism, culture-ism, prejudices of all sorts, not wearing masks, not abiding by protocols and regulations, skewing social systems into self-serving protection plans… Oh, wait…hang on…I might have mixed my eras… But does that matter? People are people. Humanity is humanity…free to choose living into the collective grace of what that could mean or living into the self-serving baser tendencies that perpetuate threat, danger, fear, and even greater isolation.

Living in a world where these choices are at the forefront of more decisions than ever, or so it seems because it is what We are living now, (I don’t pretend that it felt any different for people of the 14th/15th century), I find it helpful to consider what I believe shall be

And, in the interest of holding things lightly, in the interest of a “loose plan” to steer my thought and action, well seems spacious enough to hold my shifting moods and degrees of faith in humanity.

Because that ‘eventual point’ of wellness…that is when wholeness has come, when I have arrived home again, to where there are no masks of any kind, to where love is the light by which we are each seen truly, to where all manner of things are known as facets that glisten, that give dimension, that reflect and refract, that allow us to behold and to be beheld, in divine revelation.

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