The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


What seems (and actually is) a long time ago in my Grammar School, I was required to learn by heart a great deal of English, French and Latin poetry. Not realising the profound importance at the time, I regarded this irksome task with some distaste requiring Herculean effort. Now I bless the learning which has enabled me to dredge up quotations and aphorisms for all manner of circumstances. One such cherished source was T S Eliot, whom I studied for matriculation. In particular, the lines of Little Gidding (the 4th of the Four Quartets) I regarded as particularly fine.

... And all shall be well

And all manner of thing shall be well.

When the tongues of fire are in-folded.

Into the crownèd knot of fire -

And the fire and the rose are one.

I considered that the words were original. It was not so. Later I learned that Shakespeare had borrowed from Hollinshed and that Bach was not averse to slight modifications to existing tunes. There are many other examples, both ancient and modern.

Whilst on holiday in the Peak District, I visited the Church of All Saints in Bakewell. The town is renowned for its Bakewell Puddings (not to be confused, I am told, with Bakewell tarts - a very different concoction. My visit coincided with St Julian’s Day (8th May) and I was mortified to discover how little I knew of this mystic writer.

Julian of Norwich lived between 1342-c1416. When aged about 30 she contracted a serious illness and was near death. Upon her unexpected recovery she experienced fifteen visions or ‘Shewings’ and put into writing her spiritual revelations. She became an anchoress in the Church of St Julian in Norwich, from which it is said that her own appellation derives.

When in the Bakewell Church I found extracts from her writings. Here is the flavour of some of them, expressed as an aid to prayer, to contemplation and to study:

‘Do not be too downcast by the sin which overtakes you against your will. The Lord looks on his servant with pity and not with blame.’

‘Thankfulness and prayer belong together. The simplest enjoyment of our Lord is in itself a most blessed form of thanksgiving.’

‘The soul is immediately at one with God, when it is truly at peace with itself.’

And the famous phrase is claimed by Julian to have been uttered by God. It is recorded in her compilation ‘The Shewings of Julian of Norwich’ -

All shall be well

And all

Manner of things

Shall be well.

Powerful words of optimism in these turbulent and troubled times.

Rod Dawson

Summer Edition 2010

And all shall be well

Julian of Norwich