If you are not familiar with this book, it was written in the 14th century by an anonymous author to a cloister of monks. It has become a favorite of readers for centuries. It has been translated countless times to reach different time periods’ modern languages. The book is written in brief chapters and offers a way to enter a life of prayer and cultivating a life with God. There is a “cloud of unknowing” that lies between God and man and is pierced by contemplation.
This morning I wanted to share a passage that I just love:
Many think contemplative prayer takes a long time to achieve.
On the contrary, results may be instantaneous.
Only an atom of time, as we perceive it, may pass.
In this fraction of a second, something profoundly significant happens.
YOU ONLY NEED A TINY SCRAP OF TIME TO MOVE TOWARD GOD. (emphasis mine.)
This brief moment produces the stirring that embodies the greatest work of your soul.
How many desires can fill an hour?
You may have as many desires as there are indivisible fractions of time in an hour.
If you were as sinless as Adam was before the fall, you would be in total control of each instant.
You would respond to every divine impulse.
Everything about you would reach towards God all the time, because God created us in his image.
In the Incarnation, Christ emptied himself, becoming one of us, accommodating himself to our limitations.
Only God satisfies our spiritual hunger.
Nothing else suffices.
After God graciously transforms our soul, we begin perceiving what is ordinarily beyond our comprehension.
Angels don’t have the mental capacity, nor do we, to grasp the total reality of God, but what cannot be ours by intelligence can be ours as we embrace love.
Don’t you love that any movement towards God, no matter how small, is met head on by God?!
I love that even a tiny scrap is enough to encounter His Presence…oh and how glorious when I can linger…
Years ago, I made a small scrapbook for each of my daughters. I started with Carlen’s and then did Courtney’s book. As I have revisited those books, I can clearly see that page one of Carlen’s book is more simple than the last page of Courtney’s book…the same scraps that I didn’t know what to do with in the beginning, over time, with practice and perhaps with a more discerning eye, slowly created a different result. Both books are equally precious and there is no judgment in those first baby steps…even for the perfectionist in me.
I think sometimes I can approach prayer like this, thinking that it is all about an end result that should look a certain way.
What if I had looked at the first page of Carlen’s book and deemed it unacceptable and given up?
What if I viewed prayer like my boxes of old photos that are pushed aside until the right time to create the visual of my life?
I think God wants me to present Him daily the photos of my life…the blurry, out focus ones…the ones where I wish the zoom lens had not been used, the ones that are too dark to make out what is really happening. As I show Him my days…the joys and the sorrows, the great and not so great photo-ops…He will take those scraps and assemble a scrapbook that is precious…because it is my life…my life with Him written all over it and through it.
Do you have any scraps to take to the Father today?
I sure do!
On your mark…