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this morning a friend posted this quote on her facebook wall:

jesus never asked anyone to form a church, ordain priests, develop elaborate rituals and institutional cultures, and splinter into denominations. his two great requests were that we ‘love one another as i have loved you’ and that we share bread and wine together as an open channel of that interabiding love.

cynthia bourgeault

first off, i googled ‘interabiding’ as it was not a word with which i was familiar. i do love the creation of words and phrases which more accurately express a concept for which we do not currently have language.

then i googled the author of the quote, curious about the context in which it was first said. and there began a wee journey to basic goodness.

i came upon an article about social distancing and julian of norwich by justin coutts on his blog in search of a new eden and was captivated by the opening paragraphs.

i was totally ignorant of anchorism and any knowledge of those who practiced it. a form of spiritual mysticism, the consecration of an anchorite (also referred to as anchoress or anchoret) involved a sort of living death ritual, reminding me of buddhist meditation practice of maranasati used to experience the nature of death. the anchorite then lived a life of extreme in a small cell-like room, referred to as an ‘anchorhold, on the side of the church/cathedral. here the anchorite lived as if dead to the world.

death. so fascinating. so relevant to each of us from the moment of our first breath. each of us unable to sustain ourselves on this earth without causing death. the nature of living is the nature of death. oh, but this is simply a digression.

today, i was more caught in julian of norwich’s thoughts around goodness and was swept up by the words coutts used to encapsulate the clarity of julian’s self-inquiry:

…she was able to see the cosmic truth that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things of shall be well”.

by turning inward julian found god’s goodness, god’s love for all of humanity, and all of creation. out of the midst of suffering she was able to see the truth that god is in all things and loves all things and that goodness is the foundation even of those things which seem evil to us

personally, i have always had a problem with the notion of evil, with the existence of evil. we can stray — easily, deeply, horrifically — away from our basic goodness, we can bury it almost to the point of obliteration by some of our human proclivities, through our untended traumas, by way of thought and action lacking skillfulness. but are we not, always and forever, existing from a bedrock of basic goodness?

and i loved that as i read and scrolled through to the bottom of coutts’ thoughts, he had shared a youtube video of mirabai starr talking with michael petrow about julian of norwich and the current pandemic within which we now live. i had recently begun reading starr’s memoir caravan of no despair, where she bravely and openly shares the spiritual journey that began for her the day her daughter died in a car accident.

today, my day is filled with the feminine divine. julian of norwich who shared her revelation that god is feminine. green tara, the feminine buddha, watching me type from her place on my home shrine, mirabai starr sharing so much goodness.

my thoughts here today, cursory and not very well formed or chased. just a day where they can drift across my self, the synchronicities opening me. so welcome.


as an endnote: when i mentioned to my partner some of this trip down the rabbit hole he told me one of his colleagues’ scholarly research was on anchorites. catherine innes-parker, who i did not know well, passed unexpectedly last fall, but i shall know her better when i read anchoritism in the middle ages: texts and traditions.

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