The monotheistic religions have their own particular times set apart from ordinary time to reflect on how we humans, individually and personally, are doing in the struggle to conform our lives to align better with God’s will. It’s the ‘mystery of faith’ that is knowable only within limitations on this side of life. Each one….Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Lent….involve repentance, prayer and fasting.

This week, looking for another book, I came across The Cloud of Unknowing, which I haven’t looked at in years. I pulled it down to look at again.


The Cloud of Unknowing expresses with beauty a message that has inspired such great religious thinkers as St. John of hte cross and Teilhard de Chardin, as well as countless others in search of God. Offering a practical guide to the life of contemplation, the author explains that ordinary thoughts and earthly concepts must be buried beneath a “cloud of forgetting,” while our love must rise toward a God hidden in the “cloud of unknowing.” [from the back jacket]

When I start a book but only get so far before being distracted by tasks or duties or…other books….I mark the page and intend to get back, only to pick it up much later and have to start over again. Because for all the multi-colored highlighting I’d already done to notate the ’special’ and evocative passages, it just won’t suffice to scan them and then pick up on, say, Chapter Six when I must absorb every probing thought offered from page one.

Alas, I have many (many) books on the shelves (and stacked in the corner of my office) in such a state, and so it is with this one.

So to close…or to open…with the promises of this one, and to begin the Lenten season of contemplation of the mysteries of faith and the path of right-living, I’ll share with you what was highlighted on merely page 2 of the Foreward:

Problems have solutions, but mysteries don’t, because the more we understand a mystery the more we realize how much more there is to it than we had realized at the start. The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.

For those entering the Lenten journey, may you encounter a large island of self-knowledge, and a long shoreline of wonder.

For everyone else untouched by Lent…or Yom Kippur or Ramadan…may you be blessed by encounters with people whose faith moved them to seek personal conversion and to serve God by serving your needs better.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....