2.C.9 From ‘The Cloud of Unknowing ‘ ch 50, presented by Timothy Wright


Some people experience a measure of consolation almost always while others only rarely. But God in his great wisdom determines what is best for each one. Some people are so spiritually fragile and delicate that unless they were always strengthened with a little sensible consolation, they might be unable to endure the various temptations and sufferings that afflict them as they struggle in this life against their enemies from within and without. And there are other so frail physically that they are unable to purify themselves through rigorous discipline. Our Lord in his great kindness purifies these people spiritually through consolations and tears. Yet there are other so spiritually virile that they find enough consolation in the reverent offering of this gentle , little love and in the sweet harmony of their hearts with God’s. They find such spiritual nourishment within that they need little other comfort. Which of these people is holier and nearer to God, only he knows. I certainly do not.


Many start their journey in the spiritual life with enthusiasm. Then wonder whether they are making progress. The Author of the Cloud offers them some consolation. For others early indications show the benefits of prayer; they feel affirmed, their faith strengthened. As time passes affirmation become less frequent. The hope is that people have now developed a habit of prayer; it needs no further justification, rather as getting up in the morning to get the children to school or the breadwinner to work are habits. Prayer has become part of the routine of living; the spiritual life absorbed into daily life. It will involve silence, repetitive reading of the Word of God, saying prayers set for the day, praying with others, listening to music, singing, reading spiritual books, walking in the countryside, contemplating a picture and so on. From such activities each will develop a ‘pattern’ of prayer, suited to temperament, obligations and need. All spent consciously in the ‘presence’ of God. Those who have got this far, are able to bring flexibility in how this time is used; for some it may be a solid period of half an hour, for others grabbing five minute pauses, for others again a phrase on the fridge door from the Word of God. In this way, the spiritual life magnifies, the presence of God, till, eventually, the spiritual and the human merge, each providing context for the other. Challenges and successes are accepted as part of the plan of a Loving God; the dramas of life, sad, tragic, painful as they are, can also be fitted into this understanding of God. The sacred space created by this awareness of God’s presence, is also a place where sadness, suffering, anger and rebellion can be articulated. God is an intimate, a real ‘person’ in daily life, always aware of the difficulties being faced; never shocked by anger or rebellion. That acceptance can bring the sufferer a sense of peace, even amid the pain of raw emotion. But it may take time to heal: some may feel guilty. God can cope. That is reassurance. “God determines what is best for each one”.