THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING
Lift up your heart to God with humble love: and mean God himself, and not what you get out of him. Indeed, hate to think of anything but God himself, so that nothing occupies your mind or will but only God. Try to forget all created things that he ever made, and the purpose behind them, so that your thought and longing do not turn or reach out to them either in general or in particular. Let them go, and pay no attention to them. It is the work of the soul that pleases God most. All saints and angels rejoice over it, and hasten to help it on with all their might…. The whole of humankind is wonderfully helped by what you are doing, in ways you do not understand…. Yet it is the easiest work of all when the soul is helped by grace and has a conscious longing. And it can be achieved very quickly. Otherwise it is hard and beyond your powers.
Do not give up then, but work away at it till you have this longing. When you first begin, you find only darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing. You don't know what this means except that in your will you feel a simple steadfast reaching out towards God. Do what you will, this darkness and this cloud remain between you and God, and stop you both from seeing God in the clear light of rational understanding, and from experiencing his loving sweetness in your affection. Reconcile yourself to wait in this darkness as long as is necessary, but still go on longing after the One whom you love. For if you are the feel the Presence and see God in this life, it must always be in this cloud, in this darkness. And if you work hard at what I tell you, I believe that through God's mercy you will achieve this very thing….
This work does not need a long time for its completion. Indeed, it is the shortest work that can be imagined! It is no longer, no shorter, than one atom…. It is so small that it cannot be analysed: it is almost beyond our grasp. Yet it is as long as the time of which it has been written, ‘All the time that is given to thee, it shall be asked of thee how thou hast spent it.’ And it is quite right that you have to give account of it. It is neither shorter nor longer than a single impulse of your will, the chief part of your soul.