I don’t know how long I can keep this up.
November Writing Challenge #5
Joe Medien: an NPR style interviewer
Dame Julian of Norwich, whose speech is deliberate, gentle, courteous
Split stage. Joe in a sound studio, Julian in a small stone-walled room with a cot, a desk with a crucifix above it, a bench, a little window open to the outdoors. Cat optional.
Joe: Good afternoon. This is Joe Medien, with Anchor to Anchor. Today we’re delighted to have as our guest Julian—at least that’s the name she goes by these days. For the past ten years, Julian has lived in a little room attached to the church of Julian in Norwich. This is, I believe, the first interview she has granted, and we’re honored to have her with us. Dame Julian, thank you for joining us.
Julian: Thank you for having me.
Joe: Dame Julian—or may I call you just Julian?
Julian: “Just Julian” would be presumptuous, since God alone is truly just. “Dame Julian” is fine.
Joe: Oh. Well. Dame Julian, I’m wondering how you came to be shut up in your—what is called? A hermitage?
Julian: A cell. I am not a hermit. Were I a hermit, I would not be speaking with you.
Joe: Thank you for clearing that up. So, how did you come to be there?
Julian: When I was a young woman, I desired more than anything to see the passion of Jesus. I also wanted to come very close to death, and I wanted to learn to long for God. After all of those things happened, I wanted to pass the rest of my earthly life in contemplation.
Joe: Can you describe what you have in your—cell?
Julian: A bed, a desk, a bench, and above the desk an image of my Beloved.
Joe: Ah! So would that be your late husband? I understand that you were widowed in a round of the black death.
Julian: My Beloved is my dear Lord and Mother who holds me in his wounded side.
Joe: I see. . . . .But I’m wondering about your husband.
Julian: His life is hidden in Christ.
Joe: So, would you say that your belief in Jesus was a major factor in your decision to go live in a cell?
Joe: May I ask how you spend your time?
Julian: I ponder what my Beloved has shown me, and as I can, I write down what is most clear to me. Now and then pilgrims stop by my window and ask for my prayers. I pray with them, and I pray for them. Prayer takes much of my time. And of course there is my cat.
Joe: I want to ask you about your cat. What can you tell me?
Julian: She is good gray cat who comes and goes through the window and feeds on church mice. Every day the woman who brings my food brings her a saucer of cream. She sits on my lap when I pray, and purrs her own prayers.
Joe: Does God answer your prayers?
Julian: How can God not answer, when God is love and desires nothing but our happiness?
Joe: Pardon my ignorance, Dame Julian, but it seems to me there is a great deal of suffering in the world. How do you account for that?
Julian: When we are in pain, we hang on the cross with our Beloved.
Joe: Okay. (an awkward pause) Dame Julian, if you could give one piece of advice to our listeners today, what would it be?
Julian: Remember that our blessed Lord creates all things for your joy.
Joe: Is that all? Isn’t there something our listeners can do to, say, get closer to God?
Julian: It is not possible to be closer to God, who is our very life, and the source and spring and quenching of all our longing.
Joe: Well, I guess that’s all we have time for today. Thank you so much, Dame Julian of Norwich, for taking time out of your. . . busy schedule to join us.
Julian: You are welcome. You are most welcome.
Joe: We’ll be right back after a break.