(14th century)

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Should any thought arise and obtrude itself between you and the darkness, asking what you are seeking, and what you are wanting, answer that it is God you want: ‘Him I covet, him I seek, and nothing but him.’

Should it (the thought) ask, ‘What is this God?’ answer that it is the God who made you and redeemed you, and who has, through his grace, called you to his love.  ‘And’, tell it, ‘you do not even know the first thing about him.’  And then go on to say, ‘Get down’, and proceed to trample on it out of love for God; yes, even when such thoughts seem to be holy, and calculated to help you find God.  Quite possibly it will bring to your mind many lovely and wonderful thoughts of God’s kindness, and remind you of his sweetness and love, his grace and mercy.  If you will but listen to it, it asks no more.  It will go on chattering increasingly, and bring you steadily down to think of Christ’s Passion.  There it will show you the wonderful kindness of God, and it wants nothing so much as that you should listen to it.  For it will then go on to let you see your past manner of life, and as you think of its wretchedness your mind will be well away, back in its old haunts.  Before you know where you are you are disintegrated beyond belief!  And the reason?  Simply that you freely consented to listen to that thought, and responded to it, accepted it, and gave it its head. 

And yet of course the thought was both good and holy, and indeed necessary, so that, paradoxically, no man or woman can hope to achieve contemplation without the foundation of many such delightful meditations on his or her own wretchedness, and our Lord’s Passion, and the kindness of God, and his great goodness and worth.  All the same, the practised hand must leave them, and put them away deep down in the cloud of forgetting if they are ever to penetrate the cloud of unknowing between them and God. 

So when you feel by the grace of God that he is calling you to this work, and you intend to respond, lift your heart of God with humble love.  And really mean God himself who created you, and bought you, and graciously called you to this state of life.  And think no other thought of him.  It all depends on your desire.  A naked intention directed to God, and God alone, is wholly sufficient. 

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In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.