Yesterday I received an advance copy of a wonderful book coming out this fall, that tells a simple children’s story about grief and loss, while using the wisdom of Julian of Norwich to underscore the message that “all shall be well.”
All Will Be Well: Learning to Trust God’s Love by Lacy Finn Borgo, illustrated by Rebecca Evans, will be published in October, so you can get a copy for all the children on your Christmas list. It’s appropriate for ages 4-8, although this 60-something reviewer sure enjoyed it, so I suppose we could say “for children of all ages.” It tells the story of a little girl named Julian, who is struggling with the illness, and eventual passing, of her beloved grandmother. But the grandmother invites little Julian to meet this loss with faith and trust in the love of God, and invokes Julian’s namesake, the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich, to emphasize that we are all held in God’s love, and in that love all truly shall be well.
While Julian of Norwich is not the center of the story, the book does a lovely job introducing Julian’s life and wisdom for young children. Yes, both hazelnuts and cats feature prominently! I love how the book is built around a real challenge that all children face sooner or later — the loss of a loved one — and how Julian of Norwich’s ringing proclamation of God’s infinite and unconditional love is such an important message for children (of all ages) who are facing such a loss.
It’s a delightful book, with lovely colorful illustrations. I highly recommend it. Be sure to order an extra copy for yourself, you’ll want to keep this one in your library. Click here to order your copy of All Will Be Well.
As I thought about featuring this book on my blog today, it reminded me of several other books, written and illustrated for children, that explore mystical or contemplative themes. Here are two that I enjoy, and I suspect you will too.
Illustrator Fiona French has created a dazzlingly beautiful book to illustrate one of the most beloved of mystical poems, the Canticle of the Sun by Saint Francis of Assisi. Weaving together the splendor of nature (“Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon,” etc.) with a heartfelt sense of God’s presence in creation, the canticle has inspired generations of contemplatives, and truly encapsulates the ecological heart of the poor one from Assisi. In this book, Fiona French draws inspiration from mosaics and Byzantine art to create twelve colorful illustrations that bring the Canticle to life. Beauty is so essential to the spiritual life, and this is truly a beautiful book, the sparkling, dazzling illustrations fostering a sense of prayerful reverence to help the words jump off the page — and into our hearts.
Speaking of the heart, the third book I want to highlight is all about the heart as the location where we prayerfully consent to God’s action in our lives. Journey to the Heart: Centering Prayer for Childrenby Frank X. Jelenek, illustrated by Ann Boyajian, introduces young children (the book is aimed at ages 3-8) to the gentle practice of silent prayer. The nature-centric illustrations are gorgeous, and the rhyming text offers a doorway into the method of Centering Prayer that is age appropriate (and appropriate for all ages). “In every heart there is God’s kingdom, a holy place to pray. Your soul is the home of God inside you, each and every day.” How I wish I had received this message when I was a child! But like the saying goes, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” — which means it’s never too late to nurture the child within with a hopeful message of God’s love and an invitation to silently consent to that love’s healing presence within us. So get this book for the children in your life; it will bless them — but be sure to let it bless yourself as well.
I hope you enjoy these books — and I hope the children you love will enjoy them too!