under the bed

Julian of Norwich, 13th century mystic, and somehow sister of my soul, experienced what she named as ‘showings’, during a near-death experience, in the midst of world where she witnessed a plague that ravaged humanity with untold suffering. I imagine her recording as quickly as she could those experiences when she came-to, so as not to forget them. (the ‘short-text’) She spent the next 20 years of her life, trying to unpack them– both in the sharing of their grace to those who came to the window of her anchorage for comfort, and also in the continued journaling –word leading to deepening word– of those experiences, which we now label as the ‘long text’.

I like, somehow, that she hid them under her bed, and that after she died, someone spirited those pages away until the world was ready to receive them 500 years later.  As I read these stories about Julian, I experience such a resonance– the seeking to understand the messages in what she was shown, the writing to unpack, the attempt to embody the love she experienced… even the fear of heresy (as you will read below)

In my own writing practice, I have been often encouraged to do something more formal — to publish, for instance (under the guise that the world ‘needs’ what I have to offer), but I have resisted for some reason this recurrent call. Sure, some of that is probably fear, probably a feeling of incompetence, probably not wanting the attention. But I know I need to take care with my sharing. Honor my experience, and even acknowledge it as gift, but not let my ego carry it. Blogging for me, I think, feels safe, but it also keeps me humble, keeps my ego out of the mix (as much as that is ever possible) as I don’t get caught up in ‘imparting wisdom’ in a posture of power as one can fall into when speaking or writing directly to an individual. There is a vulnerability to it, in not knowing who is reading. There is a selflesness to it, in the offering as gift with no expectation of reward,validation, or even acknowledgment. There is a mystery to it, in their ‘Just being out there in the world’, which has felt right for me.

Perhaps this is the equivalent of Julian’s tucking her words under her bed. Or persons showing up at the window/screen to receive whatever morsels of grace might pass through. Lately, I have been noticing how my own experiences from 15-20 years ago are bubbling up in my writing, perhaps in my own unpacking of those powerful, transformative, mystical and mysterious experiences, during my own painful ‘near-death’ experiences.

And so, I risk myself here in this remembrance, which i recorded, perhaps in my own version of ‘short text’ here in 2007, and then an embarrassingly vulnerable longer one here (and I wonder where the bravery to reveal these words came from at that time… but moreso, what has receded within me)

…”this was during a profoundly healing time in my life, when a lot was being ‘corrected’ in me, around what God was, what Love was, Who I was . (I’d really received a shame based education about life). I feel like Love was literally being poured into me. Many of these experiences were dreams (I was once told that something like 1/3 of the Bible is dream related) In this particular dream, Jesus came to my bed wanting to make love to me, (ok I’d be kicked out of ‘church for that one! But a lot of the harm done to me was sexual, so I think there was some major work to be done through that) but I covered my face in shame and tried to slip out from beneath him, saying , ‘but I’m not clean, I must go wash’ (I still believed I needed to somehow be worthy enough to receive Love). Then, the most amazing thing happened. A plump babushka wearing, old world, wise woman stepped into the bedroom, and scarfed Jesus off of the bed, and told HIM to go wash. I understood then that it was my image of Love that was soiled somehow, that needed some cleaning up” .

I remember sharing that dream in small group spiritual direction where a wise, gentle sage was present. I shared there that the dream went on to me ‘reviving’ Jesus in my mouth. That gentle teacher took the shame I was feeling in the sharing of this dream and offered to me the notion of taking the Word (the words I had received) into my mouth (he was referencing Ezekiel’s taking the scroll into his mouth and it tasting sweet as honey) and transforming it/them into Love.

I am still living into the meaning of this dream too. On the surface, of course, there is the message of how Love has been corrupted by the definitions that have been passed on to us, and placed into us, by the church, where we are taught shame in a place that has such Power. But beneath that simple answer, there is layer upon layer upon layer of understanding of How I am Loved, how I am yearned for, how Love begs us to receive It…. and how you are too.

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