For the next several weeks, I will post a reflection on portions of
The Cloud of Unknowing, a masterful guide to the contemplative life.
The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 3 Reflection
April 5, 2017
Lift your heart up to the Lord with a gentle stirring of love desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts.*
-The Cloud of Unknowing
The above quote from The Cloud is the essence of our monk’s contemplative method; in fact, the rest of the book is an extended commentary on it. The simple meditative technique The Cloud offers does not consist in austerities, but is centered wholly on the way of love—via amoris. If you are capable of sustaining the gentle stirring of love, desiring and longing for God alone, you will be drawn into contemplation. This is the whole meaning of contemplation: to love the divine with your whole heart and soul.
The meditative prayer is this: Center your whole being on a longing for the Divine. Do nothing else. Let all else and all other desires fade away. Do not be concerned about anything in your life or anything you have been told about God or about yourself. Just give your whole being—mind, body, spirit, and feeling—to this pure intent. This desire for God is so profound, that The Cloud tells us that it gives the greatest delight to all the angels and saints, and it works in some mysterious way to be of service to all humankind—even if you may not fully understand how—and to lift others from their suffering, even when we do not know why.
To maintain this practice requires diligence and determination. Do not become discouraged if you feel incapable of passion, or if all kinds of doubts and concerns arise in your mind. For it is not uncommon in the beginning stages to feel many conflicting emotions, or to feel nothing, because your mind cannot pierce the dense cloud of unknowing. At first this obscurity will be frustrating, and your mind will not be able to grasp the Divine and your heart will not feel God’s loving delight.
The dense cloud of unknowing, however, is your great teacher. It is in darkness that you will learn the roots of your own will and the grasping of your mind to know. It is in the darkness that your soul will be purified of its partiality and your heart will be ignited by passion. It is a natural part of spiritual growth to be confused, feel lost, and suffer not knowing. Yet, all of this is the spirit’s way of drawing closer to the hidden longing in your own heart.
If you strive to fix your love on God forgetting all else, which is the work of contemplation I have urged you to begin, I am confident that God in his goodness will bring you to a deep experience of himself.
BEVERLY LANZETTA © 2016. All rights reserved.