One of the great mystics and visionaries of the 14th to 15th centuries was Julian of Norwich (1342-1416). As a child, she lived through the Black Death which took the lives of nearly half of the city of Norwich. She experienced grave illness herself but survived to receive several visions, or showings, that she understood to have come from God. Surprisingly she was a visionary of hope. Perhaps her most famous words are these: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” She could see beyond the troubles of her day and realize that we are ultimately in the hands of God who has the last word for our lives. At thirty she was granted a series of mystical revelations of the crucified Christ. Later she devoted twenty years as a hermit giving her life to prayer and contemplation.

In one of her showings, she had the vision of a little thing the quality of a hazelnut. And in this vision she wrote:

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘This is everything that is.’ I marvel how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.” Richard Rohr, theologian, and writer, thinks that she meant that “one authentic relationship serves as the only real doorway to a relationship with everything else.”

In our own experience, we may overlook what is small. We tend to seek grandeur and to honor the rich and famous. The creation of a hazelnut might be overlooked. A single blossom on a plant might be missed seeing. A little child born out of wedlock to a poor family might be shunned. Seeing the intended model of creation and relationships in a hazelnut is a good way to remember who we are. We are as if only a grain of sand on an ocean beach. What difference does one person make? Yet, in God’s sight, everyone is of equal and valuable importance. We are children of God born from the love of God. And yet our hope is not in created things, little or big. For from what is small we see that our life and hope are in God who is everything. From that perspective, we are able to receive spiritual rest.