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Julian of Norwich and the
Integration of Divine Parenthood

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Christopher Romans
University of Alabama

The fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich wrote her Revelations of Divine Love or The Book of Shewings in order to understand a series of fifteen visions she received in May 1371. Her text explores the ways in which the spirit is revealed (and hidden) by the flesh as well as the relationship and unification of the body and soul. Rather than discuss this theological problem in the traditional theological terms of body and soul, however, Julian of Norwich chooses to use the metaphors of Father and Mother to address the Christian's search for spiritual communion. Julian's text uses metaphors of the human actions of mothering and fathering, as well as metaphors involving material objects (such as clothing and hazelnuts) as indicators and signs of the spiritual life.

Julian of Norwich's familial metaphors represent a Trinity that is integrated and unified through divine parenthood. Not only is the divine parenthood located within all elements of the Trinity, the Trinity also reflects the full realization of the integration of body and soul, and the elements of being that Julian names "substance" and "sensualite." The familial metaphor, for Julian, is a way to emphasize and reveal the ways of divinity through the acts of the flesh. An important aspect of Julian's visions is that the members of the metaphorical spiritual family--mother, father, sister and brother--are realized in all of the members of the Trinity. Julian uses family relationships as the indicators of God's love.

Based upon the metaphors of the divine family, I will examine the position of the father and the mother in Julian's familial Trinity. Critics look at Julian as championing a particularly feminine consciousness, but fail to see the development of the God-father in conjunction with the God-mother. Jennifer Heimmel, in her analysis of the mother-image in Julian's text, dismisses the image of the God-father all together: "nowhere in the Revelations is there any lengthy development of the male God portrait or role to equal that of Julian's extended feminine image" (81). I disagree with Heimmel's statement on the grounds that Julian speaks of the Father as having certain parental qualities distinct from that of the Jesus-mother. Julian represents the God-father in her text as ever-present and giving, to name two of His traits.

What is the nature of the relationship between the Christ-mother and God-father? Julian's visions are directly concerned with Love. Her major theme is that "love was our Lords mening" (3407). Julian metaphorizes love through parental actions and bonds that are found in the physical world. The material act of parenting is spiritualized in Jesus and God, who possess parental traits such as breast-feeding, nurturing, mothering, and fathering. The result of defining God's Love by basing it on material acts circumscribes different concerns for spiritual life. In other words, Christians may not understand the infinity of God, but His presence can be recognized, felt, and enacted in even the simplest acts of love performed by humanity.

Central to Julian's fifteen revelations is the interlocking, enclosed, and enclosing nature of the familial Trinity. The interlocking Trinity is the basis for her fluid family models and indicates God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit's containment within one another and within all Christians. Julian discusses the representation of the Trinity's unity in Revelation 14. She begins by pointing out that truth and wisdom produce delight in God. This delight is love. "Treuth seith God, and wisedam beholdeth God; and of these two comyth the thred, that is, an holy, marvelous delyte in God which is love. Wher treuth and wisdam is, verily there is love, verily commend of hem bothyn, and al of God makyn" (1553-1556). Everything proceeds from God. All three of these work, as well, within "man soule." For Julian all Christians, all "creatures [...] hath the same properties made" (1557-1558). Christians must understand that all three properties—truth, wisdom, and love--are working in unison within God and are present within their own souls.

The properties of the Trinity existing within the soul refer back to Julian's enclosing metaphor of the hazelnut: God is father, mother and spouse and is understood to metamorphose into various representations of love that enclose not only Julian but all Christians, and is in turn enclosed by all Christians. Enclosing Love is called many things in Julian's text. For example, Julian receives the vision of a hazelnut in the palm of her hand in the beginning of her book. She receives the message that the hazelnut is "all that is made" (152). She understands that even though it is little, it receives all of God's love. This image of the seed inside its shell evokes the figure of the womb. Jesus as mother has a womb that "beclosid" all Christians, as Julian sees in a later vision (2306). In Julian's text the Trinity's properties blend--in other words fatherhood, motherhood, and lordship blend--into the three aspects of motherhood that are apparent to the senses: "kynde," "grace," and "werk." To be "beclosid" means to be "enclosed," and we will see that one of the first characteristics we have of the spiritual family as represented by the Trinity is its enclosing nature.

Spatially, Julian discusses the Trinity and its integration in terms of being "beclosid." Critics identify her use of "beclosid" as part of her theme of enclosure. Critics such as Diane Krantz, write that the use of this word emphasizes the Jesus as Mother metaphor (62). Lichtman also sees Julian as emphasizing the motherhood of God. She writes, "[...] in God's nature Julian sees the balance of opposites, of motherhood-fatherhood" (81). Rather than a balance of opposites, my argument is that Julian sees that the Motherhood and Fatherhood of God are complements. Because of her use of "beclosid" while referring to God as clothing and the emphasis on the Trinity itself as "beclosid," rather than emphasizing only one of the parental metaphors, Julian's use of enclosing metaphors indicates the intertwined nature of the Triune parenting. In her discussion of her first vision, in the fifth chapter, Julian writes that God shows her a "ghostly sight of His homely loving. I saw that He is to us everything that is good and comfortable for us. He is our clothing, that for love wrappeth us, halsyth us, and all becloseth us for tender love" (144-146). This idea of clothing Christians is further connected to and manifested in her image of Jesus' womb and refers to the hazelnut revealed to her in the same vision. As God is the clothing the anchoress wears, a familiar and domestic image, she is the body that God is wrapped around. Julian also speaks of the Trinity as "beclosid," in other words, surrounding the Christian; they are to see themselves in the spiritual center. As the body and clothing are skin-close, Julian writes that she sees no difference between God and human substance--"as it were al God" (2221).

Substance is part of the everything that is God. Substance, for Julian, is the part of being that is most closely aligned with God. As theological critic Grace Jantzen points out,

when our sensuality is not focused on God as the center of our lives, then we are broken, fragmented, because our higher self and lower self are out of tune [...]. As Julian presents it, the task of spirituality, made possible by the incarnation in which Christ fully united sensuality and substance, is to follow him and find in him the reunification of our sensuality with our substance and become whole again in God. (148)

All Christians are God's children by His virtue, the anchoress, and the anchoress in Him. The parent stands exterior to the child-anchoress, but the child-anchoress also encloses the Divine parent. In each Christian is the possibility of reuniting substance and sensuality. Julian establishes that very substance in relation to familial roles and how those roles surround us:

For the almyty truth of the Trinite is our fader, for He made us and kepith us in Him. And the depe wisdam of the Trinite is our moder in whom we arn all beclosid. The hey goodness of the Trinite is our lord, and in Him we arn beclosid, and He in us. We arn beclosid in the Fadir, and we arn beclosid in the Son, and we arn beclosid in the Holy Ghost; and the Fader is beclosid in us, and the Son is beclosid in us and the Holy Ghost is beclosid in us [...] This werkyng makith that we arn Christs children. (2223-2237)

The parental roles that the Trinity performs reflect the substance that is from God. The roles of the family surround all Christians and provide them with the opportunity to be "Christen in living" (2237). Julian's emphasis on the enclosing-nature of God begins early in her book as a simple metaphor of clothing, and as her text progresses, she expands the clothing to cover every Christian. The "beclosid"-ness is important in the Trinitarian family for it gives Christians, as children, the security of good life.

The children of Christ would be lost without their God-clothing. Because of the surrounding-nature of God "our feith is a vertue that comith of our kind substance into our sensuals soule be the Holy Ghost in which all our vertuys comith to us, for without that no man may receive vertue" (2230-2232). The familial nature of the Trinity is the ground of substance and the opportunity for virtue—without the Trinity working together, without its "beclosid"-ness providing Christians a salvific space, they would be unable to receive virtue, or God's grace. In the next section, I will examine the role of God the Father and his representation as the figure of the Trinity who wants all Christians to be ushered to Him through Love.

Julian and Her Text (III): The Father

The Fatherhood of God is the most abstract of her metaphors, since characteristics of God the Father are intertwined with aspects of the Passion and Julian's idea of lordship. The fatherhood of God, however, is dependent on the motherhood of God for the full realization of the Trinity. In other words, the parts of the Trinity each have distinct qualities, but it is only with their integration that divinity is revealed. This is a point to which Julian will return again and again.

In medieval hagiography and literature, fathers (such as St. Joseph) are represented as active - grieving over their children or leading their families away from danger. Fathers are also characterized as everymen, examples for humanity to avoid or follow. The Father in Julian's text is represented as active in terms of His will. God the Father is the central figure of the Trinity who wishes to see Christians ushered into Love. However, it is the God-mother who actively ushers Christians to Love. In Julian's text, God the Father is not a figure of punishment, as in Old Testament accounts of God. In Revelation Thirteen, Julian avoids the issue of God's anger and questions of God's justice by addressing the issue of sin.

Sin, Julian writes (agreeing with St. Augustine) is nothing, a thing of no substance. Julian writes in Revelation Thirteen that she receives knowledge of God's noble deeds, however "I saw not synne, for I beleve it hath no manner of substance ne no party of being, ne it might not be knowin, but by the peyne that it cause of; and this peyne—it is somethyn, as to my syte, for a tyme, for it purgith and makyth us ti knowen our selfe and askyn mercy" (950-953). Grace Jantzen writes that Julian distinguishes nothing from the non-existent:

Julian does not say that there is no sin; she says that sin is nothing. She has explained that all things - all substances - flow from the divine substance. Sin, however, does not come from God, for sin is evil and God is all goodness. This means that whatever sin is, and in whatever way it is to be understood, it cannot be a substance (Jantzen 65).

Julian suggests that sin is absence, sin is not made by God or does not come from God. It is only recognizable for the pain it causes in Christians. However, as God tells Julian, sin is "behovabil," or necessary, because, as Julian understands, the pain allows Christians to recognize themselves (938). Julian insists that the pain of sin is real, but it is the Christian's own pain, not a pain from God. God, then, is not a judgmental or an angry God, but one eager to see His spiritual children through into Love. Despite the necessity of sin, God twice promises Julian that "al shal be wel, and al shal be wel, and al manner of thyng shal be wel" (938-939). If Christians recognize that God does not "blame [...] me ne to non that shall be safe" they can take comfort in God (958-959). Julian breaks off from any further revelation from this vision, for she sees a "hey privitye in God, which privity He shall openly make knowen to us in Hevyn" (9961-9962). She is unable to explain the full ramifications of this revelation and what this means for why Christians suffer sin at all. This final meaning to the revelation will be revealed to her fully in Heaven.

Julian further denies that God can be angry. If God and His properties exist in the Christians soul, sin cannot come from within. The Christian life is rooted in love, and therefore:

He may not be wroth. It were impossible. For this was shewid, that our lif is all grounded and rotid in love, and without love we may not levyn. And therefore to the soul that of His special grace seyth so feforth of the hey, marvelous godenes of God, and that we arn endlessly onyd to Hym in live, it is the most impossible that may ben that God shuld be wreth. For reth and frendship be two contraries. (1719-1724)

Denise Baker writes that Julian's view of sin in Revelation Thirteen fits with Augustine's view of sin, but without his judgmental expectations: "The orthodox solution, definitively articulated by Augustine of Hippo, attributed evil to the free will of creatures, either angelic or human, who deliberately chose to disobey God. Although Julian of Norwich refutes dualism with a definition of evil similar to Augustine's, she also challenges the juridical premises of orthodox theodicy" (64). In other words, for Julian, God can be everything in one being, but he cannot damn Christians and usher Christians toward love at the same time. The Christian life is grounded in love, and this, too, Julian will repeat again and again. The God-father is the force of Love; the destructive aspect of God as represented in an Old Testament juridical tradition does not exist in Julian's experience. Julian more fully defines the fatherhood of God in Revelation Nine, in which she discusses the pleasure Christ feels regarding his sacrifice, the location of the fatherhood of God within Christ, and a discussion of the Three Heavens.

Significantly, Julian locates the Father within Christ. The Jesus-mother encloses the God-father. In this way, Jesus, like the anchoress and the Christian, reflects the enclosing of the Trinity within the soul. Revelation Nine begins with Jesus asking if Julian is "payde" or satisfied that he has suffered for her. When Julian answers in the affirmative, Jesus replies "If thou art payde, I am payde; it is a joy, a blis, an endless lekyng to me that ever suffrid I passion for the, and if I might suffer more, I wold suffer more" (779-781). The giving of Christ, the pleasure he takes in the salvation he gives to Julian, gives her a "felyng" of "understondyng" which lifts her up to heaven where she sees "thre Heavyns" (781-782). Julian describes these three heavens as placed within "the blissid manhode of Criste" (783). It is in the first Heaven that she "saw in Christe the Fader is" (786). Within the human image, the Trinity is set. The fatherhood of God is the substance enclosed within the humanity and motherhood of Christ, much like the anchorite's body within her enclosure.

It is in the beginning of this vision that Julian sees the sacrifice of Christ as an aspect of the fatherhood of God, of His giving nature. The Fatherhood of God, though, is not "bodily lyknes" (785). Instead, Fatherhood is found in His "properte" and "werkyng" (786). Julian never defines this "properte" or characteristic, though she does go on to discuss His "werkyng." The working of God is, for Julian, found in the giving of His greatest gift:

He gyveth mede to His son Jesus Christe. This geft and this mede is so blissful to Jesus, that His Fader myth have goven Hym no mede that might have lykyd Hym better, The first Hevyn--that is the pleysing of the Fader--shewid to me as an Hevyn, and it was ful blisfule, for He is ful plesed with al the dedes that Jesus hath done aboute our salvation. (787-791)

The first Heaven is the pleasure the Father takes in His Son's deed of salvation for humankind. The deeds of the Father are those of the Son and vice versa, since within Christ the Father is located. This overlapping of familial roles indicates not only the fluidity of the positions within the Trinity, but also indicates the workings of fathering; the Father's giving, his pleasure and pleasing, are a Heaven in and of themselves.

The Three Heavens is another expression of the integrated Trinity. The Second and Third Heavens receive only a scant description in Julian's vision, but they are worth mentioning for the reaffirmation of the interlocking nature of the Trinity. The joy, bliss, and pleasure that Christ mentions earlier are revealed to Julian as having further meaning. Julian understands that the joy or pleasure of the Father is the first heaven, the bliss is the worship of the Son, which is the Second Heaven, and the "endles lykyng" is the Holy Spirit, which is the Third Heaven. As Julian says, "the Fader is pleased, the Son is worshipped, the Holy Ghost lykith" (825). The pleasure of the Father and the Holy Spirit and the worship of the Son is the nature of the Three Heavens. Similarly, the Father is located within the Mother. The Mother, then, acts through the will of the Father within her. Julian later writes that the Mother-God is the only figure in the Trinity that Christians can see. God the Father cannot be totally sensed by humanity. Christians do not see God because, as Julian explains in the Parable of the Lord and Servant, they do not recognize Him.

Julian's most complete discussion of the Fatherhood of God is within her discussion of the parable of the lord and servant. She combines fathering with lordship as an integrated social position revealing the capacity of God's fathering; he is a giver, a comforter, and an eternal presence. Her vision of the parable of the lord and servant in Revelation Fourteen begins a few chapters earlier as she discusses prayer. Julian's vision reveals to her the nature of prayer and its conditions for fulfillment: "rytfulnes" and "sekir troste" (1392). She writes that Christians are not secure in their prayers because they do not feel that God hears them. It is in this revelation that Julian understands how God warrants his spiritual children's trust, "for it is most impossible that we shuld besekyn mercy and grace and not have it [. . .] Hymselfe hath ordeynid it to us from withoute begynnng" (1405-1407). Before there was a beginning, then, God ordained mercy and therefore Christians should trust in Him.

In her parable of the lord and servant, Julian uses physical sight to move to ghostly sight. The parable is real for Julian because she integrates two ways of seeing. As Julian writes, this parable took her twenty years to understand. In many ways, the parable of the lord and servant is Julian's attempt to understand the relationship between the God-Father and humanity. She also connects this parable to an explanation of why Christians suffer, something that was not revealed to her in the earlier vision.

The parable begins with the lord looking upon his servant "ful lovely"and the servant returning that look "reverently, redy to don hos lords will" (1801-1802). The respect and the love the two have for each other makes the fall of the servant even more tragic. The lord sends the servant to do "his will" and the servant

not only he goeth, but suddenly he stirtith and rynnith in grete haste for love [...] and anon her fallith in a slade and takith ful grete sore. And than he gronith and monith and waylith and writhith, but he ne may risen ne helpyn himself be no manner wey. (1803-1807)

Julian never explains how the servant has such a sudden change of fortune, but she writes that even though his lord is so near he cannot look upon his "loving face" (1809). The servant cannot rise or look; he can only wallow in his own woe. The servant then endures seven "grete peynes": sore bruising, heaviness of body, feebleness, blindness in reason, inability to rise, solitude, and lastly, discomfort. The servant falls, and Julian understands only one reason for that fall: the servant's "good will and his grete desire" (1824). For his service, the lord is right pleased and he says:

Lo, lo my lovid servant, what harme and disese he hath takeyn in my service for my love, ya, and for his good will; it is not skyl that I reward hem his affray and drede, his hurte and his mayme and al his wo? And not only this, but fallith it not to me to gevyn a geft that be better to hym and more woshipfull than his own hole shuld have ben? And ell me thykyth I ded hym no grace. (1833-1838)

Julian explains the entirety of this vision in this way: "The lord that sate solemnly in rest and in peace, I understond that he is God. The servant that stode aforn the lord, I understode that it was shewid for Adam, that is to seye, on man was shewid that tyme and his fallyng, to maken thereby understonden how God beholdith a man and his falling"(1877-1880). Adam, who represents all humanity, is not in total despair, however. Julian goes on to say that God is pleased about the will of humanity, though in Adam's feebleness he is "lettid and blyndyd of the knowing of this will" (1884-1885). The absence of the knowledge of the will of God is the greatest misery for humanity. God, the Father, is always there--in his Fatherhood he is ever-present and giving. Whether Adam knows or understands, God is waiting for him to look in His face and be unburdened of his ignorance.

Julian describes the Father's face as he looks at his servant. The loving look of God is a mixture of pity and bliss:

the joy and bliss passith as fer reuth and pite as Hevyn is aboven the erth. The pitee was erthly, and the blis was hevenly. The ruth in the pite of the Fadir was of the falling of Adam, which is his most lovid creatur. The joy and bliss was of his dere wirthy Son, which is evyn with the Fadir. (1904-1907)

This look is indicative of the overlapping presence of God in heaven and on earth. The pity is a sign of His earthly presence. The bliss is his knowledge of the Christians' salvation. That salvation is wrapped up in the gift of Christ who is the sign of God's pity on earth. Christ, then, is a sign of the salvation of God, and an indicator of the bliss that is to come. The Father/fathering, in Julian's work, is one of constant presence and of giving. Again and again, Julian returns to the fathering role as a giver of salvation (eternal life); this complements even further the mothering role of God as a creator (of eternal life). Julian concludes her discussion of the parable of the lord and servant by revealing why the servant cannot see God, the Father: "Man is blindid in this life and therefore we may not sen our Fader, God, as he is. And what tyme that He of His goodness wil shewin Hym to man, He shewith Him homley as man" (1911-1913). God, the Father, is best understood as revealed in Christ, in flesh. And, Julian's vision continues to emphasize the unity of the Trinity in everything. The parable of the lord and servant provides another perspective on that unifying principle:

In the servant is comprehended the Second Person in the Trinitee, and in the servant is comprehended Adam, that is to sey, al man. And therefore when I sey the Son, it menyth the Godhede which is even with the Fadir; and when I sey the servant, it menyth Christs manhood which is rythful Adam. Be the nerehede of the servant is understode the Son, and be the stondyng on the left side is understood Adam. The lord is the Fadir, God; the servant is the Son, Christ Jesus; the Holy Ghost is even love which is in both of them. Whan Adam fell, God Son fell.

[...] Adam fell fro life to deth into the slade of this wretchid world, and after that into Hell. Gods Son fell with Adam into the slade of the Maydens wombe which was the fairest dawter of Adam and therefore to excuse Adam from blame in Hevyn and in erth, and mytly he fetched Him out of Hell. (1970-1983)

It is only through the descent that humanity sees a glimpse of the Father or any sign of Fatherhood. When the Father is the Son (and the Mother), bliss and joy is the result. Only through the separation, the descent of Christ in human flesh, do their roles become effable. Christ, Julian writes, had to be separated from the Father because he is the gift of salvation; God, the Father, is the great giver. But, it is also to be understood that Christ in the flesh is Adam and should be understood as the servant - within the boundaries of Heaven they are "even." This descent, or as Julian later writes, Christ's putting on of Adam's "kirtle" excuses humanity from blame, or Adam's sin.

Julian underlines the unity of the Trinity, but her explanation of that unity is based on parental roles in which everyone sits equally within one another. This is significant since this is the basis of her discussion of the mothering of God. She is able to explore the ramifications of the Christ-mother by laying a foundation in the unified Trinity. The Father-God has saved humanity through his gift. His fatherly role is represented as an omni-present giver and lover. As said before, this Father-God is not wrathful - for Julian this is impossible. Rather, the Father exists as a reminder of blissful unification and endless beneficence.

Julian's Text (IV): The Mother

Julian situates the mother metaphor within the integrated Trinity. In Julian's Shewings, God's acts are intimately connected to mothering itself. Even though Julian locates the qualities of motherhood within Christ, her metaphors rest on the understanding of the referent, motherhood, in order to present a transcendent, spiritual mothering. Patricia Vinje writes that the theme of Jesus as Mother is not used by Julian alone; however, "Julian's development of the theme is more theological than these (Anselm, for example) early English authors" (100). As we will see, Julian champions the power of motherhood as that which is all-powerful and all-containing. An understanding of the qualities of Christ as Mother begins in Julian's text with a discussion of "sensualite."

As Revelation Fourteen continues, Julian discusses how Christians know God better than they can know their own souls. Julian writes that God sits in a "worshipfull cyte." It is "our sensualite, in which he is inclosid; and our kindly substance is beclosid in Jesus with the blissid soule of Christe sitting in rest in the Godhede" (2304-2306). We have already discussed the idea of substance, which is the part of being that comes from God. It is the sensuality of Christians, though, that may be out of focus with their substance. It is only Christ, Julian writes, who has perfectly joined substance and sensuality. Julian sees this joining, however, most clearly, in the motherhood aspects of God.

The "sensualite" of being is the result of the soul joining with the body. Sensuality is the part of being that is unaligned with the substance. Sensuality is more than flesh; Julian seems to indicate that "sensualite" is part of humanity that is connected to flesh, but also closer to substance. Through the "vertue of Crists passion" (2314-2315) sensuality and substance will be reintegrated. Substance is located in and comes from all three members of the Trinity; however, sensuality is only found in Jesus. Julian writes that Christians have difficulty in understanding their souls because they must learn to seek the soul, "wher it is, and that is in God" (2292). Christians can be led to this understanding of the placement of the soul through the Holy Spirit, "He is mene that kepith the substance and the sensualite to God" (2296).

The soul is the city in which God sits; as Julian unfolds this aspect of her vision, she highlights the enclosure of God. The sensuality is the relationship between the body and the soul: "it is knit to our body, in which knitting we arn made sensual" (2338-2339). As Lichtman writes, "For Julian the body is first a means to deepened spiritual experience of a transformative character and second, in its transformed, ensouled state, a principle of sensualyte in which God is present" (12).

It is this same sensuality, however, that leads Christians to misunderstand the soul's unity in God. God will "restore and fulfill" that understanding. Since humanity does not understand the soul completely, God sent Christ to give an example of the "knitted" manner in which body and soul exist: "For in that ilk tyme that God knitted Him to our body in the Maydens womb, He toke our sensual soule; in which taking, He us al haveyng beclosid in Him, he onyd it to our substance, in which onyng He was perfect man. For Christe, having knit in Him ilk man that shall be savid, is perfit man" (2366-2370). In Mary's womb, God created perfect man - Christ was perfectly joined in substance and sensuality. Julian expands that womb to include any person who will come to be saved: "Thus our Lady is our Moder in whome we are all beclosid and of hir borne in Christe, for she that is moder of our Savior, is moder of all that shall be savid in our Savior. And our Savior is our very Moder in whome we be endlesly borne and never shall come out of Him. Plenteously and fully and swetely was this shewid" (2371-2375). As Patricia Vinje writes, here is an instance where holy motherhood contains all Christians. Mary is the only Christian to have fully realized the holiness within her. If all Christians were to realize the divinity within them, they would be children of (and realize their enclosure by) Christ and Mary (152).

For Julian, then, Christians have two mothers: Mary, who includes all Christians in her womb as perfect when they are saved, and Christ, who includes all Christians in his womb but never gives birth to them; they are born without birth in Christ's womb. This is how Julian's audience must understand beclosidness: a birth that does not leave the safety of the divine womb. Julian also sees Christ as sitting inside all Christians. He never allows any separation from Him for He has experienced the most painful separation given to Christians by the Father. The concept of Jesus as mother also deflects God the Father's previous juridical interpretation; as Brant Pelphrey points out, the Christ Mother is significant because,

it challenges the whole juridical approach to salvation which has appeared in the West--looking upon the human relationship to God in impersonal, legalistic terms of justice, righteousness, repentance and so on; and points again to an older tradition of the soft but personal relationship of a mother for her children, or a lover for his beloved. (85)

The motherhood of Christ is the "life-giving aspect of God's surrounding presence." To expand the metaphor even further, Julian writes that Christ is two mothers himself. He is the Second Person of the Trinity, who is "the Moder substantial" and "the Moder sensual" (2412-2413). Christians are double in God's making, for they have both substance and sensuality. The motherhoods of Christ, however, are perfectly joined. Through His mothering qualities, Christ provides Christians with the power to increase their spiritual life, and the ability to reform and restore their souls. In the act of the Passion, the Christ-Mother joins the Christian's sensuality to their substance. Because of this Mother-work, all of "His children [...] arn to Him buxom and obedient" (2420-2422). Through her recognizable action of joining sensuality to substance, the Mother-Christ garners obedience from His fellow Christians. It is in the Father that Christians are saved, but it is the Mother who reforms and restores Christians to perfect unity. The substance becomes "whole in ilke person of the Trinite which is on God" (2432). Christians are completed by their enclosure in the familial Trinity; the self is completed by the substance's existence within each member of the unified Trinity. This joining, Julian writes, is bliss.

God in his charity gave Christians the Mother-Christ--the Father "wylleth" and the Mother "werkyth" (2642). It is in the working of the Mother, Julian points out, that Christians come the closest to understanding the Love of God. Julian understands that within the Motherhood of Christ there is grace and it is within that grace that there are three manners of Motherhood: "The first is groundid of oure kinde makeyng. The second is taken of our kinde, and there begynnth the Moderhede of grace. The thrid is Moderhede of werkyng, and therin is a forthspreadyng, be the same grace of length, and bredth, and of heyth, and depenes withouten end--al His own luf" (2475-2478). Much like the Trinity in its entirety, the Motherhood of Christ exists as a unified whole but with three attributes. Mother-Christ begins with the grounding of being, then exists as a state of grace, and finally works to spread the grace through Love. As Diane Krantz writes on the matter of "kynde" or "kinde," "since one meaning of ‘kynd' is nature, her words suggest that Jesus assumes the natural properties of motherhood, but also that He gives these qualities great value in the divine economy, because they partake of His nature which is everlasting. In his mothering role, Jesus serves as an eternal vessel, a fixed container" (18). The Mother-Christ is so huge, so vast, that the Love is without end.

Julian then goes on to explain the third aspect of the gracious Motherhood; how Jesus "forthspreds" grace:

How that we be bowte agen be the Moderhede of mercy and grace into our kindly stede, wher that we were made be the Moderhede of kind love; which kind love, it never levyth us. Our kynde Moder, our gracious Moder--for He wold al Holy become our Moder in al thing--He toke the ground of His werke full low and ful myldely in the maydens womb (2480-2484).

The wholeness of our being, the proper joining of our substance and sensuality is contingent, then, on the acts of the Father and Mother--and like the Father, the Mother's love is never gone. The difference between the Father and Mother is the level of revelation. The Father wills and is present, but it is the Mother who works for our substance, who is willing to join that substance and who loves eternally. The "Moders service is nerest, redyesy, and sekirest, for it is most of trueth. This office ne myth ne couthe ne never non don to the full but He alone. We wetyn that all our Moders beryng is us to peyne and to deyeng. And what is that but our very Moder Jesus? He, al love, beryth us to joye and to endless lyvng"(2489-2493). The Mother is closest to Christians, because she has put on their sensuality. She is the most readily available to Christian understanding.

Despite her use of biological mothering as the referent in her Christ-mother metaphor, Julian differentiates between biological and spiritual motherhood. All biological mothers bear their children to a fate of death; in other words, humans are born to die - it is Jesus, however, who places Christians back in the womb of everlasting birth through grace. It is only in His Motherhood that Christians do not die. Julian goes on to reveal how Jesus's actions are based in motherhood, but his capability is much greater. Even though humans are fed by a mothers' nutritious milk, Christ gives Christians "Himselfe, and doith full curtesly and full tenderly with the blissid sacrament that is pretious fode of very life" (2501-2503). A mother may bring a child to her breast for comfort and food, but Jesus is feeding His children with his actual body. Jesus can also take Christians back into his body: "He may homely leden us into his blissid brest be His swete open side and shewyn therin party of the Godhede and the joyes of Hevyn with ghostly sekirness of endless bliss" (2509-2511). Again Julian returns to the enclosing nature of Christ's body—his womb encloses the soul in eternal life.

Modir, Julian writes, should only be used for Jesus and the one that bore him - the Mothers to all Christians. Julian explains that the properties of Motherhood are "kinde love, wisdam, and knowing and it is good" (2516-2517). Julian also explains the relationship between Christ-Mother and Soul-Child is characterized by meekness and virtue:

Faire and swete is our hevenly Moder in the syte of our soule; precious and lovely arn the gracious children in the syte of our hevinly moder, with myldhede and mekeness and all the fair virtues that long to children in kynde. For kindly the Child disperith not of the Moder love; kindly the Child presumith not of the selfe; kindly the Child lovith the Moder, and ilke on the other. These arn the fair virtues, with all other that ben like, wherewith our hevenly Moder is served and plesyd. (2645-2651)

The Mother-Child bond is based not only on love but on the virtues, such as humility, that serve and please the Mother. As God the Father is pleased through the salvific actions of the Son/Mother, the Mother is pleased by the love shown to Him. The children who come out of Christ in likeness, shall be brought back to Him by His Motherly grace (2660). Jesus is the supreme mother because Julian understands that the appeal to "the lower parte for love of heyer parte, and He will that we knowe it" (2525-2526). Jesus appeals to Christian sensuality so that the soul may take part in the bliss offered to it. It is through the Christ-mother, then, that Christians are raised up, in life, to understand a higher bliss that is only hinted at in the un-seeable Father.

The parenthood of the Trinity is unified by the Christian's "trew loving of God" (2529). When God is loved honestly, then the circle is closed and unity ensured. Julian writes that this is what it means when God says "I it am" (2430). In the being of God, in the relationship of sensuality and substance, God is the Father and Mother. Julian explains how all the familial positions exist in one God: "And thus I saw that God enjoyeth that he is our fader, God enjoyeth that he is our moder, and God enjoyeth that He is our very spouse, and our soule is his lovid wife. And Christe enjoyeth that He is our broder and Jesis enjoyeth that He is our Savior" (2074-2077). God is the father, mother, and spouse. Christ is the brother and Savior. The soul is God's spouse. The everything of God, the fulfillment of all familial roles, is found in the loving example of those Parents. The Father wills and gives, the Mother works and loves--the parental roles depend on each other to provide for the salvation of the child (the complete soul). As Diane Krantz writes, "in the nature of God, in the seed of God, in the womb of God, in that compassion which is part of the masculine and feminine natures of God, in this Mothering and Fathering, we have life and being" (124). Without this kind of integrated parenting, the offer of the salvific womb and the ever-present look, Christians would be condemned and would never come close to identifying the substance and the sensuality, or what may be called a completed self. Through the working of grace, or the Mother, Christians receive salvation. What God's children do not fully understand is that they are always within the Trinity and the Trinity is always within them.

Works Cited

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Vinje, Patricia Marie. An Understanding of Love According to the Anchoress Julian of Norwich. Salzburg: U of Salzburg, 1982.

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