By Rev Fiona Bennett (From Seeds October 2021)
The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything, wrote Julian of Norwich.
The periodic table is a wondrous thing; a picture of all the elements from which everything is made. The tree by the road and the bike leaned up against it are made up of elements in the periodic table.
The pigeon on the wall and the stones which make up the wall, the air and the stars, my computer and my body are all made up of elements named in the periodic table. All of matter is connected, a type of kin, sharing the same broad range of elements.
When St Francis of Assisi talked about ‘Sister Moon and Brother Sun’, he was not aware of the periodic table and yet he was expressing something he sensed: that everything which exists is all part of the creation and kin of God.
Julian of Norwich expressed this in a similar but different way; she understood that all things exist and are held in existence by God’s love. She lived in hard and challenging times and yet she came to understand that: ‘The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything. God is the ground, the substance, the teaching, the teacher, the purpose, and the reward for which every soul labours.’
To know the fullness of joy is not to live in luxury, nor to escape the challenges of life; it is to discipline ourselves to perceive and appreciate the intimate, infinite, accepting, loving Holy One in every moment and everything.
“The pigeon on the wall and the stones which make up the wall are all made up of elements named in the periodic table”
Learning to open our minds and hearts to this transforms our perception. The everyday reveals holiness. The hard things (conflicts, challenges, pain, loss, fear) do not become less hard, but opportunities to know more deeply God’s creative Spirit and the kinship of all life.
As we move in our worship from the Season of Creationtide (September) to the Season of Wholeness (October), may our experience of the fullness of joy deepen as we perceive and appreciate God in everything.