Julian’s Hazelnut

Julian of Norwich was one of the great mystical writers of the 14th Century. She understood that all that exists was created and is sustained by God’s love. For Julian, the hazelnut was an important image of this and it is an image I love. She describes God’s revelation to her in a book called Revelation of Love (sometimes called A Book of Showings) like this:

“And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: What can this be? I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that because of its littleness it would suddenly have fallen into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has been through the love of God.

“In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God preserves it. But what did I see in it? It is that God is the Creator and the protector and the lover. For until I am substantially united to him, I can never have perfect rest or true happiness, until, that is, I am so attached to him that there can be no created thing between my God and me.”

For Julian, the hazelnut was a sign of hope, a sign of the power of God that sustains us. What are the signs of hope in your life?