The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. by Evelyn Underhill, , at sacred-texts.com
That without full special grace, or long use in common grace, the work of this book is right travailous; and in this work, which is the work of the soul helped by grace, and which is the work of only God.
AND therefore travail fast awhile, and beat upon this high cloud of unknowing, and rest afterward. Nevertheless, a travail shall he have who so shall use him in this work; yea, surely! and that a full great travail, unless he have a more special grace, or else that he have of long time used him therein.
But I pray thee, wherein shall that travail be? Surely not in that devout stirring of love that is continually p. 163 wrought in his will, not by himself, but by the hand of Almighty God: the which is evermore ready to work this work in each soul that is disposed thereto, and that doth that in him is, and hath done long time before, to enable him to this work.
But wherein then is this travail, I pray thee? Surely, this travail is all in treading down of the remembrance of all the creatures that ever God made, and in holding of them under the cloud of forgetting named before. In this is all the travail, for this is man’s travail, with help of grace. And the tother above—that is to say, the stirring of love—that is the work of only God. And therefore do on thy work, and surely I promise thee He shall not fail in His.
Do on then fast; let see how thou bearest thee. Seest thou not how He standeth and abideth thee? For shame! Travail fast but awhile, and thou shalt soon be eased of the greatness and of the hardness of this travail. p. 164 For although it be hard and strait in the beginning, when thou hast no devotion; nevertheless yet after, when thou hast devotion, it shall be made full restful and full light unto thee that before was full hard. And thou shalt have either little travail or none, for then will God work sometimes all by Himself. But not ever, nor yet no long time together, but when Him list and as Him list; and then wilt thou think it merry to let Him alone.
Then will He sometimes peradventure send out a beam of ghostly light, piercing this cloud of unknowing that is betwixt thee and Him; and shew thee some of His privity, the which man may not, nor cannot speak. Then shalt thou feel thine affection inflamed with the fire of His love, far more than I can tell thee, or may or will at this time. For of that work, that falleth to only God, dare I not take upon me to speak with my blabbering fleshly tongue: and shortly to say, although I durst I would do p. 165 not. But of that work that falleth to man when he feeleth him stirred and helped by grace, list me well tell thee: for therein is the less peril of the two. p. 166