Roman Catholic mystic Julian of Norwich (1342-1416?) said, “All shall be well and every kind of thing shall be well.” This is the ultimate expression of hope, and this is the telos—the end—of all spiritualties, religions, and philosophies of life: “All shall be well.” This is all about trust—trusting all that is.
For some, the motions of the cosmos and the rhythms of nature guarantee that all will be well. For others, a powerful God—in the world; or outside it; or both—guarantees this. Others are not concerned about God or gods but consider that human consciousness itself guarantees this feeling of all being well. Or art. Or the creation of art.
However we get there, the end—if we hope for wisdom and peace in our daily lives—will be “All shall be well, and every kind of thing shall be well.” This is the attitude—the belief—the trust—that will make our short sojourn on this planet in this life agreeable.
It is important to know that Julian was not naive. As a matter of fact, we don’t even know her name. She was somehow attached to the church of St Julian in Norwich, England, but she is named after the church, not vice versa. She lived through the Black Death and the many recurrences of the plague that followed. She lived in a time of constant peasant unrest and revolt. She lived in a time when the Roman Catholic Church had imploded, with two popes claiming divine authority. She lived in a time when Scholasticism had made Roman Catholic doctrine opaque to those without the benefit of university education. She lived in a time when women could not get a university education.
We know that she survived a debilitating, life-threatening illness, and that’s about all we know about her. That, and that she was a profound religious teacher.
Julian was no babe in the woods.
This anonymous woman from Medieval Europe got to the place all religious thought must lead: “But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and every kind of thing shall be well.”