Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) was a Benedictine mystic whose little cell I have visited in Norwich, Norfolk England. She was a recluse and seldom left her little room but she was able to ‘see’ far beyond the confines of the parish and the present tumult of her day. She wrote the first published book in the English language by a woman and was motivated in her life and writings by her belief that “the [Lord Jesus] will have all our love fastened to Him.”
Fressingfield, in NE Suffolk, is just a few miles due south of Norwich, Norfolk. In and around this little village nestled in small hills, my line of Barbers have lived since at least the 1300’s – until my line (through gg grandfather Robert) came to Guelph, Canada in 1836.
Robert was trying, no doubt, to put behind him his recent arrest at a ‘riot’ at the infamous Bulcamp Workhouse. Conditions in that place seemed to him and others of the day, and to me still, to be intolerable. With so many newly poor and unemployed farm workers, often coming from large families, and with the government’s Corn Laws and with the new technologies such as steam threshing machines replacing much sheer manpower’ – there was not much hope for many for gainful employment or advance.
Instead they were consigned to the dreadful ‘House of Industry,’ were called ‘inmates’ and in the case of spouses separated into the men’s or women’s quarters. Frustrated, the agricultural populace sizzled, boiled and finally blew in this and many other similar settings throughout England.
I treasure notes indicating that Robert’s father William paid surety to gain his release, perhaps so he could travel to Canada with a family whose daughter, Harriet Oakes, he would soon marry in this ‘new world.’
Who knows how things – born of awful, evil circumstances will ultimately turn out, with influences evolving towards the good of generations yet unborn?
We too, in the chaos, frustrations – and in the midst of the seemingly random events that influence us in so many ways – make our own choices and sacrifices. Perhaps, even in struggle and uncertainty, they reflect the same light of hope and ultimate rest in which Dame Julian lived. In such faith she would say: All shall be well, and all shall be well; and all manner of things shall be well.