‘All hope, all joyous certainty’

atrotlFlinders (author of At The Root Of This Longing) writes, ‘How very fortunate we are that Julian [of Norwich] appears to never have learned Latin, the language of formal scholarship–of “universals” and abstractions, as opposed to local, vernacular realities. The Middle English in which she wrote was the language of intimacy rather than formal distance. Its very warmth matched the intensity of her desire to communicate, and its melodic softness made it the perfect medium for conveying a doctrine that was all hope, all joyous certainty.’ (49)

She writes, ‘My feminism and my spirituality have always been closely connected…. I’d taken up meditation out of a driving and, yes, aching need for self-knowledge and meaning. My feminism had arisen out of the same well of feelings, and in many ways the life I had chosen reflected it. Part of me, though–the part that never lost awareness of the attitudes that demean women and girls so universally and systematically–was like a muscle that is sore from strain and misuse.’ (53) But whereas Julian offers a spirituality of pure love, Flinders’ politics recognize systematic hatred. No wonder a part of her is sore. To relieve that soreness, she kept trying to reconcile the two, ‘inviting them to dinner parties,’ (53) hoping they’d get along, but the area only became increasingly inflamed. She realized that she was ‘the one who has to account for being “of two minds.”… But I was a long way from understanding how these two strong tugs in myself could be aligned.’ (54) Where is this hope and joyous certainty in daily life? Is that partly why Julian chose the solitude of an anchorite? As she searched, Flinders found four ‘critical stress points’ or ‘polarities’. The first three are variations on the same theme, a difference between feminism and meditation to which one can seek to walk a middle path, but ‘the enclosure of women,’ she concludes, ‘is a custom feminists have had no choice but to challenge.’ (82) She finds no middle path here; she finds instead, as we’ll see, an alternative to patriarchy. image from wikipedia

  1. silence (61)
  2. self-naughting (65)
  3. redirecting desires  (70)
  4. enclosure (77)
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