The Cloud of Unknowing

Everybody who prays seriously and consistently for any length of time will eventually 512px-Anton_Faistauer_Studie_betender_Mann_1909find themselves on the other side of first fervour, at the threshold of the mystic way. This is the moment when the vast majority who come this far in prayer, usually pack it all in – I know I nearly did. All my attempts at prayer were a complete failure. Each time I tried to pray in the way I once could before simply got nowhere. The Scriptures, the devotions, the meditations that moved me before, moved me no more. Two tormentors always accompanied me to prayer. The first was a raking desire for God; the second was a mind full of distractions that drove me crazy, because I couldn’t do anything about them. So my heart was restless inside and outside the prayer that I thought was pointless. I was continually tempted to pack it all in and do something more constructive with my time. I couldn’t even get any pleasure out of the hobbies and the enthusiasms that used to excite me before.  read on…..

4 thoughts on “The Cloud of Unknowing

  1. Thank you for sharing this reflection. It is an inspiration for me to re-read and incorporate “The Cloud of Unknowing” (William Johnston “translation”; the original trips me up, which probably says a lot more about me than the original author:-).

    W. Ockham


    • Thanks for your reply. The sadness is that all too many people have been led to believe this is the place of departure for a person who desires to follow the contemplative way in prayer. The author of the ‘Cloud’ himself makes it clear that is not the case. The point of departure is always by coming to know and love Jesus Christ by studying the way he loved and lived whilst he was on earth. When this knowledge leads to the love that yearns for union this love draws us onward into Christ as he is now,so that we can love the Father in with and through him in his risen glory. It is when this process begins that the teaching of the ‘Cloud’ and other similar works becomes relevant, but not before. What has sometimes been called ‘ordinary prayer’ comes to an end, not when we choose, but when God calls us into the contemplative way to the simple uncluttered love of Himself in with and through the Risen Lord. In order to distinguish when God has taken this initiative I have enumerated ten signs culled from the Christian Mystical tradition in my book ‘Wisdom from the Western Isles’. I will send them to you if you so wish. As the great Jesuit mystic Pere Lallemant would have put it, it is only after fully practising and assimilating the ‘Exercises’ that a person is ripe and ready for God to lead them on into mystical contemplation. – David.


      • David:

        Thank you for the thorough reply. This definitely mirrors my own path as I have needed to do the intellectual work first. I would appreciate it if you could share the ten signs from your book. Also, do you know your book will be available in Kindle edition? I am trying to consolidate by book storage :-).

        Thank you again for sharing.

        Peace in Christ,
        W. Ockham


      • Dear William,
        I am at present negotiating with my publisher and am hopeful that my book will be in Kindle form in the near future ‘til then please find the signs that I promised to send. I have sent them to you (by email) however in their new form, as they will be published in my latest book ‘Wisdom from the Christian mystics’. I do hope I make myself clear. – Fraternally, David.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s