Last Christmas, I received as a gift the 2014 Fact or Crap daily calendar. We enjoyed it in the office almost until summer, when it began to languish for a number of days between being checked. In July I pulled off a whole bunch of pages at once, and came across this one:
People of the Middle Ages believed that the hazelnut was a powerful aphrodisiac.
I figured “Fact” and then turned the page over to read it. It turns out I was right:
The people of the Middle Ages believed that a sure way to obtain the love or friendship of a desired person was to divide a double hazelnut and share it with them.
This took my breath away. I was reminded, immediately and powerfully, of the Blessed Julian of Norwich and her famous hazelnut vision, recorded in her Revelations of Divine Love:
Also in this He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for little[ness]. And I was answered in my understanding:It lasteth, and ever shall [last] for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.
In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it.
She continues with description of what it is to love God and to be loved by God.
As I regarded this throwaway page from the Fact or Crap calendar, I was struck dumb. For here was God, sharing a hazelnut with Julian, God’s beloved daughter – speaking the language of the Middle Ages, in which a hazelnut is a love note.
For God so loves the world, that God gave an ordinary hazelnut, that all may know that they are loved infinitely and scandalously in this and in eternal life.