“It is all that is made.”

It may be the most well-known mystical vision in the western world: the entire universe, round as a ball and the size of a hazelnut, being held in the palm of the hand.  Julian of Norwich was born in 1342 and lived as an anchoress–sort of like an extreme nun.  On what seemed to be her deathbed she had a series of 16 visions. She was miraculously healed and spent the years afterward reflecting upon the meaning of the visions. She eventually composed them into a book, Revelations of Divine Love, written in the simple English of the day, not Latin.

That was Middle English, the language of Chaucer. I have used the public domain translation by Grace Warrack and updated the language for modern ears, with the help of Clifton Wolters’ 1966 translation. 

When I was thirty-one, God sent me a bodily sickness, in which I lay three days and three nights. On the fourth night the priest gave me the Last Rites, because those with me were certain that I would not to live till day. But after this I lingered for two more days and nights, and on the third night I was sure I was dying, and those with me were certain too…

My parish priest was sent for to be at my death. By the time he arrived, my eyes were fixed and could not move. I could not speak. He held the Cross before my face and said “I have brought thee the Image of thy Maker and Saviour: look upon it and be strengthened.”….

After this my sight began to fail, and room became dark about me, as if it were night, except in the Image of the Cross which somehow was giving off light; and I could not understand how that was happening. Except for the Cross everything else in the room was horror, as if it were filled with demons. After this the upper part of my body began to die, and I could hardly feel anything, and my breath became shorter and shorter. I was certain I was dying. And in this moment suddenly all my pain was taken from me, and I felt as fit and strong as ever…..

[The visions begin. She has a vision of Jesus dying on the cross, and she receives insight about the Trinity and then Mary, the mother of Jesus. Then this.]

….At this moment our Lord showed me a spiritual sight of how intimately he loves us. I saw that He is everything that we know to be good and helpful. In his love he clothes us, hugs us, holds us tight, because of his tender love, never to leave us. As I saw it he is everything that is good. 

And He showed me more, a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut, on the palm of my hand; it was as round as a ball. I looked thoughtfully and wondered, “What could this be?” And the answer came: “It is all that is made.” I marveled that it continued to exist and did not disintegrate, because it was so small. And I was answered in my understanding: “It exists, both now and forever, because God loves it.” That is, everything owes its very existence to the love of God.


Through Mine Own Eyes

From Katharine Trevelyan’s above-named autobiography.  This is an example of a mystical experience that transforms nature itself.  “Seeing face to face at last” is likely a reference to the Bible’s I Corinthians 13, Paul’s famous chapter on love: “For now we see only a reflection as if in a cloudy mirror; then, we shall see face to face.”  More from this experience of Trevelyan will be published next time.


When I knew myself as nothing but a prize fool in love, I took my pain and foolishness in both hands and quite simply offered them to God, whom I recognized through this last anguish to be the backcloth of my life and my eternal love.

What followed was beyond me to understand.

Whether it was predestined or whether the Heavens had been waiting with an open question to hear an uncomplaining acceptance of this last sorrow, I cannot say.

It felt as though an infinitely complex machine had in all its parts, between one moment and the next, clicked silently into gear and started to work with inexorable power.

I saw face to face at last.

Light streamed down from the sky such as I have never beheld. The sun shone with a new light, as though translucent gold were at its heart. I saw not only the physical sun, but the spiritual sun also, which poured down on me as I walked in the garden at Coombe.

The wonder was beyond anything I have ever read or imagined or heard men speak about. I was Adam walking alone in the first Paradise. That it was a garden near the outskirts of London in the twentieth century made no difference, for time was not, or had come round again in a full circle. Though I was Adam, I had no need for Eve, for both combined within me. Marriage and maternity fulfilled and surpassed, I had run beyond womanhood and become a human being.


Photo by Mehdi-Thomas BOUTDARINE on Unsplash


The Inspiration Begins

This is a place for inspiration–bold, naked, and unashamed.  Thanks for joining me!  In some lives at some times God has broken through. Your heart is pierced. Your mind is lifted to unforeseen heights.  For those weighed down with baggage about the word “God,” then we can say someone or some things from a higher dimension have entered our third.  Miraculous intervention, divine love, profundity made visible: All these have somehow been experienced on our planet by people of all races.

I hope to upload a new item daily, but my schedule and the length of some passages may intervene.  You are welcome to submit your own, from your own experience or others’.

All these accounts are true, or at least alleged to be true by their authors.  I do not write them.  I copy and paste them. This is a service.

Most of these accounts are joyful. But some are terrifying. For God is holy, absolute and infinite goodness, and we are not.  Since “inspire” originally meant “infused with Spirit,” and if the Spirit can motivate us to abandon the worst part of ourselves, then these readings are inspiring too.  One thing you will find here is what the word “awesome” originally meant.

The site will eventually include wisdom about the nature of these experiences; I have a master’s degree in spiritual theology from a major, accredited Canadian institution of higher learning. Don’t make me string cliches like that together again or I will find you.  But seriously, guidance can be useful. The wisest guidance of all is that we do not seek these experiences for themselves. That makes for a destiny of disappointment.  We seek the One who makes them, who gives us a glimpse of reality more real than the everydayness we must live in here.

The experiences are like telescopes in this way.  We use them to see beyond. We are not going to learn about the stars by admiring, collecting, and stroking the brass of the telescopes.  And to keep perspective on the moral importance of mystical experience we might apply the mysticism of the poet William Blake:

God appears, and God is light
To those poor souls who dwell in night
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

So: Many things on our journey are more important than ecstasy and mystical experience:  Seeing the image of God in your neighbor, loving her or him as yourself.  Just keeping faith when you have to slog through another day of what seems like winter with no Christmas or a desert sans oases.  But sometimes we need a cup of hot chocolate or a cool cup of water to keep on going.  Sometimes we need what medieval writers called consolations.  If we cannot have it ourselves at least we can be glad that others have, and we can be reminded that we live in a world of possibilities not impossibilities.  Ask your nearest quantum mechanic.

That’s enough spiritual theology.  For now, enjoy.

Mystical experiences are rare things, but we will begin with one of the most widely read, from a man who–many years later– had as large a spiritual impact on our modern age as any writer.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton