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Nadado 1 Kit A. Nadado English 371 Dr.

Patricia Patrick Understanding the Divine The Book of Margery Kempe and The Book of Showings portray the attempts of two women, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, to understand the divine and to comprehend the incomprehensible. These attempts to make sense of Gods love and experience compassion for the Saviors atonement are never futile, nor are they in vain for both reached a degree of understanding of the divine. Both Margery and Julians efforts of understanding the divine and experience compassion are strikingly different from one another: Julian separates herself against the rest of the world and experience a life of contemplation while Margery resorts to outward manifestations like emotional outbursts and pilgrimages. Despite the differences of these efforts, none can judge the better or the more excellent way, for both are appropriate in their own way and both reached an understanding of the divine. Both Margery and Julian understand the divine and experience compassion for the Saviors atonement in their own way. Julian of Norwich desires to experience the pains of Christ in order to achieve compassion in the confines of her cell. In her book, Julian wrote, I should desire the second wound of our Lords gift and his grace that my body might be fulfilled with mind and feeling of his blessed passion (415). This desire seems to be sadistic and perhaps strange yet Julian has her reasons. Julian explained, for I would that his pains were m y pains,

Nadado 2 with compassion and afterward longing to God. (415). Julians desire of experiencing Gods pain is ultimately motivated by her desire to comprehend Gods atonement and experience compassion for such selfless act. Julian is then favored with the vision of bleeding, as if the blood comes from Christs wounds as a crown of thorns is pressed into His head. The atonement during the vision appears to be a tangible reality to Julian. She appears to be an actual witness to the Saviors suffering. Julians vision enables Julian to empathize, although imperfectly and incompletely, to the human Christs suffering. Julian tries to make sense of the vision her limited human knowledge can comprehend. She describes the vision as quick and lively and hideous and dreadful and sweet and lovely (417). Julians descriptions are filled with awe and wonder. These descriptions are but human perspectives attempting to understand the divine. Nevertheless, Julian has achieved compassion for Christs suffering and a certain understanding of Gods love. Julian writes, Thus was I learned, that love is our Lords meaning. In our making we had beginning, but the love wherein he made us was in him fro without beginning(424). Julian learns that love is what motivated God to create humanity and to suffer for humanitys sins. Julian has come to an understanding of the divine through her own way. Her way is a life in contemplation, confined in a cell. Julians way is nothing short of a success for she indeed achieved understanding and felt genuine compassion for the Saviors sufferings. On the other hand, Margery Kempe attempts to understand the divine and achieve compassion through outward manifestations like vows of celibacy, pilgrimages and emotional outbursts. Margerys attempts may have labeled her as a fool or a madwoman, yet in her own

Nadado 3 way, she achieved understanding of the divine and experienced compassion for Christs suffering. Perhaps her most distinct characteristic is her tendency to weep and wail excessively. Margery has her reasons for such actions. Responding to the bewildered priest, Margery states, Sir, His death is as fresh to me as He had died this same day, and so me thinketh it ought to be to you and to all Christian people(393). Just like Julian of Norwich, Margery sees the atonement as an on-going reality in her life, an event that is fresh and recent. This perspective on the atonement is powerful because it propels Margery into righteous acts. Margery sees the divine in every child or good-looking man. She also resorts into sacred vows and pilgrimages so that she can further understand the workings of God. In her own way, Margery does come in to an understanding of the divine and a compassion for the Lords atonement. Truly, none can judge who among these ways are better or worse. In their own ways, both Julian and Margery gain a deeper understanding of Gods love and grace in the end. Both have experienced compassion for the Saviors atonement and an understanding of the divine love of God. These ways are both appropriate on their own for both ways are but human. Therefore, none is perfect or better, yet both can be used to achieve the purpose of making sense of Gods love and glory. Through Gods grace that we humans can completely comprehend the mysteries of God, perhaps, in Gods due time and course.