Most courteously and most tenderly.

I’ve been submersed during the last month or so  in the writings of the 14th century English mystic and anchoress Julian of Norwich as part of a class I’m taking about her life and spirituality.  Every week as part of class, our professor opens a half hour for us to meditate through art on a passage related to our learning.  A few weeks ago, armed with my sketchbook and some borrowed crayons, I showed up to this late evening class feeling raw and open-nerved after a fourteen hour day, an emotionally difficult weekend, and heaviness in my heart.  I rolled my eyes and felt a sinking pit in my stomach when I read the two prompts for meditation: one was about Julian’s vision of the bleeding Christ on the cross and the other was about mothers.  I was unprepared on all levels to think about either my suffering Lord or his relationship to mothering, parenting, provision.  In a word, I was feeling oppositional.

But, I had to choose one, or sit in my uncomfortable chair with my arms crossed for the duration.  So I picked the second one, hoping that some sort of lovely feminist vision would come to me, edging into my consciousness and having nothing at all to do with my recent struggles to understand myself within a larger matrix of the story of my own parents.

So, I read and reread Julian’s gentle words, “The mother can give of her child to suck of her milk, but our precious Mother Jesus can feed us with himself, and does, most courteously and most tenderly…”  I thought about communion, and Jesus feeding us out of his own body.  I thought about the powerful experiences, at some times of total emptiness and at others of absolute peace and assurance, I’ve found eating at that table.  Finding sustenance there, despite my anger or doubt or conviction.  Then I read the rest of the meditation… “With what do you need Christ to feed you right now?”  Oh, no.  I very desperately didn’t want to reflect on that question.   But, actually, I didn’t have to.  I just began to color.  I need to engage some full disclosure here.  I have no artistic ability whatsoever.  None.  I appreciate beautiful things but don’t create them.  Especially with Crayola crayons.  But, keeping those words in my mind, “our precious Mother Jesus… feed you…,” here’s what came out:

Julian, Christ as Mother

I sat and watched myself draw this stunning, living woman, these gorgeous heavy breasts and tummy, this open posture and radiance.  And had no idea what the hell it meant.  But in order to honor Julian, you’ve got to sit with something for a while.  I mean, the woman had a vision of the Christ on the cross and meditated on it for twenty years before she wrote about it again.

My mother is not this image.  I don’t know this mother.  I know I want her to be mine.  What do I need Christ to feed me now?  This image tells me my heart is crying for comfort.  I want warm, luscious fullness.  Plenitude.  Her arms aren’t showing in the picture, but in my mind they’re plump and warm and full, and they’d probably fit right around me while I cry.  She’s peaceful, and that peace simply oozes out into the rest of the picture.  Christ is this woman.  He’s my mother.  I need one, right about now in my life, and this is the one I want.  Open, vulnerable, strong, and comforting.  Available, compassionate, and unafraid.  Thing is, I think I’ve got what I’ve been looking for.  It’s been there, in my heart, all along, just waiting for me to drop my defenses and pick up my yellow crayons.  I hope you find what Christ wants to feed you, too.  Amen.



  1. embracethecall Said:

    I sense the need for companionship, peaceful silence and comfort. may you find that which you ache for.

  2. Robin Said:

    Wow, this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself with us.

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