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📝 Want to play pen pals?
I'm launching a kooky creative project based on the epistolary relationship between Sister María de Jesús de Ágreda and the king of Spain, Felipe IV.
I’ve fallen down a mystical rabbit hole, and I can’t get out.
It all starts when I meet Julian of Norwich, and her divine revelations.
The writer in me is flabbergasted by her literary achievements in plague-era East Anglia. It’s a profound demonstration of the relationship between sight and insight - and the depths that can be mined from a single bolt of inspiration, if one does the work.
She has a revelation - or series of them - on what she thinks is her deathbed. She’s thirty. The visions prove relatively fleeting - they may last a few minutes, at most a few days. She spends the next 50 years of her life slowly and deliberately unpacking them through meditation and reflective writing.
Julian challenges me. I have bolts of inspiration every day. I spend very little time cultivating them. I could and should go deeper. Waiting for a more worthy or fully formed one is an act of procrastination and self deception.
Welcome to delightful rambles through rarely trod trails in the pop-cultural wilderness.
I want to know more about Julian, and that leads me to discover The Christian Mysticism Podcast - and its co-host
He is a historian of late medieval and early modern Europe.
Eire, in conversation with Alberto de la Cruz, introduces me to some frankly 😮 people. Spiritual athletes. Most are active, and regularly witnessed in their spiritual athleticism. They do their thing well after Reformation and Age of Reason critics deny and dispute the possibility of doing the things these holy folk are regularly and widely witnessed doing.
I can never hope to experience most of the things they experience.
I’m unlikely to experience the levitations of St. Joseph of Cupertino
I’m unlikely to experience the stigmata of St Francis of Assisi
I’m quite pleased that I’m unlikely to experience the transverberation of St Teresa of Avila (though she feels it to be a grace)
I am unlikely to experience the physical bilocations of Sister Maria de Jesus
But I can experience the way she and King Felipe IV of Spain write letters to each other.
He has a preferred style of correspondence. You can kind of see it in the image 👆. He writes on the left hand side of the page, she replies on the right.
Simple, but delightful. And kooky. What a clear record of thoughts and counter thoughts. What an interesting record of a relationship.
That, I can experience. And so can you. In fact, I will experience it WITH YOU if you like.
Want to play with me? I have an idea for a project. I’ll likely write as a fictional character - and you can too. Or you can just be yourself. Either way, I’ll send you a letter to your mailbox, and you can reply to mine. My thoughts will run down the left hand side. Yours can run down the right. That’s all I know for now.
If you want to play, just send an address and your preferred nom-de-plume to email@example.com
Let’s see what happens.