Review: Anchorhold

Anchorhold, Kirsten Pinto Gfroerer. Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press, 2022.

Summary: A two-year correspondence with Julian of Norwich, reflecting upon the Revelations of Divine Love.

Anchorhold. The residence of an anchoress. This work engages the writings of perhaps the most famous of all anchoresses, Julian of Norwich, who chose to spend her life within a cell. The writing she is known for is The Revelations of Divine Love. Kirsten Pinto Gfroerer is a modern writer from Canada, a counselor and theologian. She spent two years in a written dialogue with Julian’s work, deeply reflecting upon, mulling over, questioning, and moving deeper in her own journey into Divine Love through this process. This book is a product of that time.

In 86 reflections, she considers passages of The Revelations. It takes her on a journey of seeing how that love meets her own brokenness, of how Julian believes that we are not truly shown our sin until we are shown the divine love, and how we are invited to participate in that divine love, invited into the very Godhead, and in knowing that love, we find rest, that no matter what we suffer, even in the face of dying, “All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” For Julian, this love is knowing the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit but also experiencing the maternal love of Mary.

One of the early and most famous reflections concerns Julian’s vision of being given the hazelnut. Gfroerer writes:

“In the hazelnut you see three attributes: the first, that God made it, the second that God loves it, the third that God cares for it.Nothing in the hazelnut’s essence reveals these attributes; in fact, it is so small, it is almost nothing. However, it has these attributes of being created, loved, and cared for by the Godhead because the Godhead gives them to us. Because they are gifts there is nothing we can do to lose them” (p. 14).

Some of the most searching entries are around suffering and sin. Where our tendencies are to focus on these, and sometimes it is hard not to, there is this constant movement in Julian, and in the author’s reflections to move back to Divine Love, and the extravagant, unconditional acceptance we find as we live into Christ. When we do so, these things are swallowed up in the immensity of the one who loves us.

In many ways, this is far better than a commentary on Julian’s visions. While we do have the parsing out of what Julian meant, Gfroerer’s reflections, which join thinking deeply about Julian, deeply of herself, and deeply of the Godhead takes us far more deeply into a spiritual reading of Julian, one that invites us into the same kind of process.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

One thought on “Review: Anchorhold

  1. Pingback: The Month in Reviews: February 2023 | Bob on Books

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