Here Beginneth the Entry about The Cloud of Unknowing

I got on the train the other morning, on the same car through the same doors that I usually do, and instead of turning right I turned left and sat in the seat corresponding to my usual seat. Sitting down, I found a wedge of read newspapers and, next to them, a cheap paperback edition of the 14th century Christian mystical text, The Cloud of Unknowing.

Fortunately, it's a more modern translation than the online version, which I find really difficult to puzzle through. Let's look at a passage from the prologue. The first paragraph comes from the online edition, the second from my newfound copy.

Fleshly janglers, open praisers and blamers of themselves or of any other, tellers of trifles, ronners and tattlers of tales, and all manner of pinchers, cared I never that they saw this book. For mine intent was never to write such thing unto them, and therefore I would that they meddle not therewith; neither they, nor any of these curious, lettered, or unlearned men. Yea, although that they be full good men of active living, yet this matter accordeth nothing to them.

However, there are some presently engaged in the active life who are being prepared by grace to grasp the message of this book. I am thinking of those who feel the mysterious action of the Spirit in their inmost being stirring them to love. I do not say that they continually feel this stirring, as experienced contemplatives do, but now and again they taste something of contemplative love in the very core of their being. Should such folk read this book, I believe they will be greatly encouraged and reassured.

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