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The Cloud of Unknowing, Distilled

 

God is not an idea to be grasped but a presence to be enjoyed.

This is the central message of the 14th-century mystical text The Cloud of Unknowing, which many readers today find less-than-accessible due to the medieval milieu in which it was written.

In The Cloud of Unknowing DistilledDaniel DeForest London offers a distillation of the text that speaks to today’s spiritual seekers and provides a spiritual practice for directly experiencing the God beyond all understanding. As a scholar, priest, and practitioner of contemplative meditation, London captures the Zen-like wisdom and whimsy of the anonymous medieval author, who describes an ancient form of prayer and meditation known today as Centering Prayer with practical acuity and evocative imagery.

Drawing from medieval understandings of Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, angels, Bezalel, and even the devil’s nostril, the author of The Cloud offers one of the most colorful and unique introductions to the apophatic tradition and contemplation in general. In this brief distillation, a classic text of Western mysticism has become broadly accessible while remaining deeply penetrative and revelatory.

Within these few pages, you will become acquainted (or re-acquainted) with the anonymous author of The Cloud and refreshed anew by the benevolent presence of the divine who is beyond all knowing and yet closer to you than your very breath.

 

“As Daniel London’s concise introduction explains, The Cloud of Unknowing teaches us that God is not a thought or an idea, but a loving presence to be encountered in the simplicity of silence. Whether you have treasured this classic text for years or are coming to it for the first time, you will find something here that speaks to your soul and invites you more deeply into the life of prayer.” —Arthur Holder, PhD, Professor of Christian Spirituality, Graduate Theological Union, editor of Christian Spirituality: The Classics and The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality

“Like meeting an old friend after an absence and immediately being on intimate terms again, I met the essence of the beloved author of ‘the Cloud.’ This devotional brought me to tears and to belly laughs with that familiar wisdom and wink of slyness I have loved throughout my life. Daniel DeForest London has indeed distilled the author’s authentic voice.” —Suzanne Guthrie, author of Praying the Hours and Grace’s Window: Entering the Seasons of Prayer

“To paraphrase a mystical work such as the ‘Cloud’ is no easy task but Daniel London managed to bring this classic jar down to the lower shelf, so to speak, and made it quite accessible to us all. Definitely a must read! Contemplative prayer suddenly has become for me a joy to engage in. Thanks to the author for crystallizing for us that love is the only instrument that can pierce through our own unknowing.” —Wil Hernandez, PhD, Obl. OSB, Executive Director of CenterQuest and author of a trilogy on Henri Nouwen and Accidental Monk: A Chronicle of Struggle, Faith, and Surrender

“As both a scholar and ordained minister in the Episcopal Church, Daniel London is able to do what few others are capable of today: a modern rendition of a ‘spiritual classic’ that is both faithful to the original text, as well as immediately accessible and immensely rewarding to the contemporary reader. A fitting guide for either the classroom or personal spiritual sustenance, this edition is bound to become a ‘classic’ in and of itself.” —David M. Odorisio, PhD, Director of the Retreat at Pacifica Graduate Institute, co-editor of Depth Psychology and Mysticism and editor of Merton and Hinduism: The Yoga of the Heart

 

About the Author

Daniel DeForest London is an Episcopal priest, serving as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka CA. He earned his PhD in Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley CA. He teaches courses on spirituality, ethics, and mysticism and is an Associate of the Order of the Holy Cross and the Community of the Transfiguration.

 

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Published by Apocryphile Press

Review & Commentary