"All shall be well and all shall be well
and all manner of things
shall be well."
-- Julian of Norwich
The above quote has been my trusting in troubled times mantra for the last few years. The optimism appeals to me, as does the simplicity and repetition of Julian's statement. A mystic, Julian of Norwich wrote "Revelations of Divine Love," started in 1373 and frequently cited as the first English-language book published by a woman. Julian, despite her claims of being "unlettered," was one of the first bluestockings.
Julian of Norwich, pictured with a cat, in this icon.
In the Travel section of today's New York Times, Rachel B. Doyle reported on the literary tradition alive and well in Julian's hometown of Norwich: "Where Writers, and Readers, Feel at Home."
A medieval town located two hours from London, 31 medieval churches still stand. Many now serve as houses of word worshippers, settings for readings, salons, and writing classes, Doyle reported. The reporter also revealed that Julian, , an anchoress (religious hermit) "was likely bricked up inside a small stone cell during her 40-odd-years of monastic life."
The contemporary writer demonstrates a sense of humor about the ancient writer. "Julian's manuscript survived for almost three centuries in the care of nuns before it was finally published in 1670. Compared with what Julian of Norwich experienced, the long waits of modern writers trying to find a publisher can seem almost reasonable."
Other high points of Doyle's feature:
• Last year, 1.5 million visitors dropped by the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library.
• Across the street from the modern library, in a medieval church, the 17th-century writer/physician Sir Thomas Browne is buried.
• "An artist inscribed the entire text of Sir Thomas More's "Utopia"--written in 1516--on an old brick building.
Sounds like a town where people know how to wag their tales. I want to go!