Back home safely in Wool last night, after what seemed like a long train journey across the width of England from Norwich.
Jan and the cats were fine, and seem to have had quite a good time in my absence! I just had the best time at the Julian Shrine. Maybe later I'll try and say something about the spiritual side of this, but at the moment it still feels very private. Practically, though, if anyone else is thinking of going, do! Not only is it the most wonderful place to visit, and to pray (see this picture of the Shrine in Mother Julian's cell) but I would seriously recommend the Guest House next door, run by the Community of All Hallows, rather than some hotel in the city. Sr Pamela will give you the warmest welcome, and if my experience is anything to go by, you will meet some fascinating people among your fellow guests.
Just be careful of the bookshop in The Julian Centre next door - you can do serious damage to your wallet without even noticing... If nothing else, though, pick up a copy of All Shall Be Well, Sheila Upjohn's marvellous modern language translation of The Revelations of Divine Love, which the Centre has recently republished. They have pretty much every other translation as well, including the essential scholarly edition by Colledge & Walsh, and at least one edition of the original text, and loads of quality icons, rosaries and other bits & bobs.
As an aside, if you look at the picture of the Shrine, you'll see on the left a kind of shelf under the stone crucifix carved under the window. (The shelf is used for votive candles in little blue pots.) That shelf marks the original floor level, and the window, which opens onto the church next door, was where she would hear Mass, and receive the Blessed Sacrament. To sit in silence in the place where Julian herself prayed is something I quite lack the words to describe.
In the last chapter of her book Julian writes about her Revelations:
"I desired in many ways to know what was our Lord's meaning. And fifteen years after and more, I was answered in spiritual understanding, and it was said: What, do you wish to know your Lord's meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this, and you will know more of the same. But you will never know different, without end."