Sheila Upjohn's review of Robert Fruehwirth's The Drawing of this Love, Growing in faith with Julian of Norwich

"I found this harder to wrote than any review I have ever written.  This is because Father Robert's book needs to be read, and re-read, and lived with, before it is possible to write an appreciation of it.   

 

I know I shall come to value it more and more over the years."

 

Sheila Upjohn


When you give a retreat on Julian of Norwich, you expect to be heard in respectful silence.   But one day, when Robert Fruehwirth invited his retreatants to see all of themselves, and all of life and all of the world’s history in the light of God’s promise ‘All Shall Be Well,’ some of them interrupted him, saying it was just not possible, and probably not even desirable. 

This challenge is the starting point of his new book The Drawing of this Love, Growing in faith with Julian of Norwich.   For ‘All shall be well’ is not an easy promise to believe.  And when Julian herself first heard these words her reaction was to reply:  ‘Good Lord, how can all be well when great harm has come to your creatures through sin?’

For although ‘All shall be well’ sounds like a simple reassurance, there are deep and confronting truths hidden in that simple statement.   Accepting ‘all shall be well’ means establishing new habits of trust and allowing all that is least loved to be open to the possibility of God’s healing.

This book explores the challenges involved in that trust, and of living within it.  It explores the challenge of being prepared to accept without understanding, and of being content to know that there are no easy answers. 

The exploration has to seek for answers, and in doing so acknowledges that this must always be a work in progress.   And these answers have not been come by lightly.  For this book, like Julian’s, is the result of more than 20 years of prayer and meditation on the message she was given – a message that she knew was meant not just for her, but for all her fellow Christians.    Robert Fruewirth has understood that message, and passes it on in his turn.  The result is as moving as it is profound.

The Drawing of this Love is a book that needs to be read slowly.   The chapters are short, and each one is followed by questions.    This is a format that in other books can sometimes seem irrelevant, and can often be an irritant.   But these questions are both comforting and challenging, and they form a hugely important part of the book.

This is not a book for quick reading, but should be taken little by little, a day at a time – either alone or with a group.   Only then will it reveal its riches as Julian becomes our companion on our long and arduous, hopeful and joyous, journey of faith.

Sheila Upjohn

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