Christian Heroes: Julian and Sir Gawain

As an anchoress, Julian separated herself from the world to live solely for God. She wanted to live a life full of prayer, and she wanted to minister those who wanted to have a closer relationship with God, or those who just wanted spiritual advice. If you look at Julian from a modern-day standpoint, you would think that she was deprived of pretty much everything. She lived in a tiny, cubical-like cell, she was devoted to the church, and she lived for God. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it just makes you realize how strong her relationship with God was, and how she wanted to bring other people to His word as well.

Out of all of the interesting passages that Julian wrote and spoke about, the one that I enjoyed the most was the passage(s) about the hazelnut.

The presumption that the hazelnut exemplifies thoughts has some substructure within the text. When Julian asks what exactly the hazelnut is, the response is given in the present tense: “It is all that is made.” The response that she was given seems really particular to me in a sense that if the text was referring to the Earth or something like that, it should have said something along the lines of “all that has been made.” So, it makes me think that the hazelnut is referring to one thing only, such as life in the present tense no matter what may be going on. What fascinates me about Julian is her ability to see the meaning in something as small as a hazelnut.

Even though Julian obviously questions the morality of the hazelnut, she still relies on God because she knows that He will not steer her in the wrong direction because she is full of faith. From what she has seen and heard in her visions, she knows that His love is everlasting, and that He will not fail her. What makes Julian’s self-construction seem so effortless, is her extraordinary personality. Even though she fully believes in God and lives by His word, she doesn’t ridicule others for seeing things differently than her. Had it not been from her almost dying, maybe she would feel differently, but she explains how, even though she has not met God, she has experienced him. Therefore, she knows that He is real and has faith in knowing that she will be with her Heavenly Father one day. Julian is not boastful either. She just wants everyone to know about her visions and her love for God in hopes that she can convince them of His everlasting love. That is what makes the hazelnut so meaningful even though it’s very miniscule.

Everything involving the hazelnut makes me think about my life, and the things that I encounter on a daily basis. The things I deal with in my life may seem so big and inconvenient, in the grand scheme of things, but they are really just insubstantial things that will dissolve to nothing over time. It could be a sickness, a job, financial issues, relationship issues, or even doubts of worthiness. You have to let go of things that are so minuscule even though they may seem so much bigger. Despite everything that Julian has gone through, she still remains full of happiness and hope in the luminosity of God’s love. She finds her peace by focusing on God and His word. Her attitude and openness to other interpretations of God and how others define their relationship with Him is so inspiring to many people. Julian’s idea of self-construction is that people are defined by their relationship to God, and that is something that I can agree with to a certain extent. If your relationship with God is nonexistent, then there would be another way to define yourself, it just would not be done through a Christian point of view.

What I liked most about Julian of Norwich is the rawness and authenticity of the story. When you can compare your own scenarios to events in the story, it makes it seem that much more real and enjoyable. With that being said, it’s kind of similar to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight because it is also a story full of authenticity. Most Autherion stories want to make any character, especially knights, seem so perfect. Whatever it is that is going on, the author wants them to be seen as an ideal character. Sir Gawain is the most “normal” knight in my opinion because he’s given the benefit of the doubt that he is only human even when he makes mistakes. Of course, Gawain is seen as the “perfect knight” because of his five virtues: fellowship, generosity, chastity, courtesy, and charity. Seeing that Sir Gawain is only human, he succumbs to his survival instincts towards the end of the story; he fails to turn over the green girdle to Lord Bertilak, but Lord Bertilak makes Sir Gawain realize that he, once again, is only human and humans make mistakes. Therefore, he shouldn’t be defined by one little mishap. The self-construction of Sir Gawain is ultimately his learning from his failures as well as his ability to accept them and move on. In my opinion, I feel like Sir Gawain is the true definition of a great knight. I find him so easy to compare to a normal human being, which makes his story that much more interesting because it all seems so real.

Throughout Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, we are able to see Sir Gawain’s point of view regarding his own personality as well as the way that others see him. He is held to such a high standard by his people even though he knows that he is undeserving sometimes, but I think that is what makes him such a good knight; his ability to accept his flaws and failures. Any other knight would gladly take all of the perks and praise and not even acknowledge the fact that they are guilty of many different things. Julian’s innocence and her ability to see everything in the world as good is also astonishing because even though she experiences some awful things, she believes that they were done all in good faith. Another thing that I realized is that she doesn’t boast about her relationship with God, she actually feels unworthy of receiving her visions, but she still receives them because she realizes that God is using her as His way to teach everyone about Him. I really enjoyed both stories about Julian and Sir Gawain because they are full of selflessness and courage. I view both Julian and Sir Gawain as true Christian heroes.  

07 July 2022
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