I think May is my favourite month, full of flowers and blossoms and with the summer months stretching out ahead. This year, at least in this country, May also sees the lifting of more coronavirus restrictions, bringing the possibility of more social contact and various activities that we’ve been deprived of for many months - something to celebrate!

For me personally, the 8th of May is significant in being the date when the church commemorates our “local saint”, Julian of Norwich, whose church is only about twenty minutes’ walk away from Trowse. In my April Ramblings I mentioned Margery Kemp, who went on long pilgrimages abroad in the 14th century. Margery was a rather troubled soul and visited Julian at St Julian’s Church in King Street for spiritual counsel. 

This reminds me of the “Millennium Pageant” staged in 2000, in Old Catton where we live, with scenes from local history through the ages. I was thrilled to be given the part of Julian and my friend Liz was Margery. Dressed in mediaeval costumes, Liz was supposed to look plaintively up at my window while I gazed down with wisdom and compassion. Unfortunately, in rehearsals, whenever we caught each other’s eye we collapsed in giggles. In the end the director had to tell us not to look straight at each other. Oh dear. However, it was “all right on the night” - or afternoon. 

It was only through Julian’s window that she had any contact with the outside world. When she became an anchorite, she was literally walled up in her cell; you couldn’t get a stricter lockdown than that! As I suffer from claustrophobia, one of my most traumatic experiences was being locked in the church toilet for three quarters of an hour, so being walled into a cell would be my worst nightmare.

Nevertheless, Julian’s writings have had a profound effect on my thinking; indeed I would say she changed my life and her kind of theology led indirectly to my ordination.

Julian would certainly sympathise with us about the coronavirus pandemic. In 1348-9 over half the inhabitants of Norwich died of the Black Death, and in 1361 another 23% of the population, including many children, were wiped out. Plague struck four more times during Julian’s life and may have been the illness of which she nearly died in 1373 when she had her revelations.  Even so, she saw beyond the pain and suffering and wrote those words that have brought comfort to so many:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”