One of the most positive and upbeat approaches to the spiritual life was that of Julian of Norwich. Her philosophy of rejoicing in God’s love more than sorrowing over one’s faults is a path full of light and hope. When I asked a priest friend years ago who his favorite spiritual writer was, he named Julian of Norwich. Knowing of his own upbeat approach to spirituality that, by itself, should have been a clue. But It took a second reading of Julian’s writings for me to really get what I should have picked up on earlier.
Fixating on our faults and failings can become an endless exercise in inward self-indulgence, and indulging the self is what most efficiently distances us from You. It makes much more sense to focus upon and revel in Your great love for us. Isn’t the spiritual life about focusing on You rather than ourselves? In the dynamics of love is it not quintessential that all is focused on the other? And from such focus can be derived great joy. Thus, at the core of contemplation what must be recognized is that it is not just the consideration but the embracing of the reality that You are with us, You love us, You forgive us our faults and failings, and You beckon us to Yourself.
I think Julian of Norwich got it right: recognizing and accepting my sinfulness, my faults, my failings, my weaknesses, and my mistakes is one thing, but dwelling on them is an obstacle. It is better to admit with all honesty that I manifest the flaws of my nature, yes, but Your love for me covers them over. If I live every moment in this realization, what could possibly make me happier? The greatest joy of life is to love and be loved.