Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
I am delighted to share I have a third poetry collection being published on May 9th from Paraclete Press titled Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty.
I have long loved the wisdom of Julian but like many, when the pandemic arrived, she became my patron saint of lockdown and compassionate retreat. She herself lived during times of plague, so knew the fears of times like that. Her gift to me was as a companion during the long quiet days full of the ordinary graces of life.
Since then I have had my own series of health issues to manage and Julian also knew about wrestling with her body’s needs. I imagine her visionary heart opening to a deeper love of the world lying vulnerable in her bed, beholding the simplest of beauties around her.
Read this poem slowly and then watch the poem video and see if the images illuminate the poem more for you in being able to see the building itself. If the images distract, close your eyes and listen to me reciting the poem to you.
Julian of Norwich in Her Sick Bed The stone walls stay cool on this late summer afternoon. Bushels of golden apple light tumble through my small window, casting a yellow square on the floor which shifts slowly all day like a tired pilgrim. The tabby cat places herself into this warm glow, sighing each hour as she rises again to follow its journey. A breeze rustles in and I gulp down autumn’s early arrival like being under a waterfall. All day I watch the sun travel, the cat shift, the snail who makes its way up my wall leaving a trail like the tears that streak my face into a map of desire. At night I dream I can fly, slip out the window into the dark liquid sky, feel the night lift me onto her back like a wave cresting and I am suddenly more than these frozen limbs, I can taste the stars, flakes of sea salt sprinkled across black silk. The moon opens her wide mouth as if to sing, then swallows me, takes me inside her until I know myself as one who waxes and wanes, who shines brightly and sometimes disappears into darkness.
After reading and listening to the poem, allow some time for reflection:
What has been your experience of illness or forced convalescence? Do you feel the rhythms of the moon reverberate through your being so that you become one like her, wandering through periods of waxing and waning, becoming and letting go? Can you embrace these nocturnal rhythms as the natural course of your earthly presence and being?
If you want to practice some breath prayer here is a suggestion:
Breathe in: slow down
Breathe out: and savor
You might close with an affirmation:
I call on Sister Julian to show me how to slow down and savor the world so I might fall more deeply in love with it.
You can order a copy of Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions for Times of Uncertainty at this link. (Paraclete is offering a 20% discount for pre-orders when you use the code LoveHoldsYou at their website).
Love Holds You: Poems and Devotions in Times of Uncertainty, is being launched online tomorrow (Monday) and officially published Tuesday. Please join Simon and me for a free event as I share some of the poems and stories from writing and Simon offers his gift of song.
This coming Saturday, as a part of our Mystical Heart series, Carl McColman will be leading us in a three-hour retreat on Julian of Norwich on her feast day. Julian embodies the archetype of the anchorite and hermit, seeking solitude in service to greater love. (Click here for a link to a reflection from Carl about Julian’s wisdom).
Join us tomorrow for the start Visionary, Warrior, Healer, Sage: Archetypes to Navigate an Unravelling World.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Poem Video by Luke and Jake Morgan MorganBrothers.ie