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[Watershed Online: Spirituality]
[In Search of The Cloud]
by Linda Tiessen Wiebe

[Cloud of Unknowing painting]Painting by Bev Patterson

(Click here for study questions on The Cloud of Unknowing.)

I WALK TO the edge of the Sahara Desert; the sand burns through the soles of my sandals. On the horizon are a handful of small huts. I approach the monks' sacred dwelling, and, remembering it is 1360, cover my face. An elder monk greets me, skin bronzed by the sun, hair dusted with sand. He bows silently and shows me inside the closest hut. Behind the rugs hung in the doorway, an orange candle-glow lights the room. On the far wall hangs an icon of Christ, eyes towards heaven, hands alternately pointing up and down. After a time, a chime is heard; all rise up and leave through another door. As the monks enter, they break their silence with the Lord's Prayer, and slowly conversation begins to trickle. I look around and notice I'm not the only visitor. At a table is a man from the cities, without tonsure. He is a traveling priest, average in height, with a thin face and high cheekbones. His eyes are deep set, but kindly. I notice his hands long and narrow, their softness out of place in this harsh land. I sit beside him to inquire of his journey:

"Greetings brother. You too come from afar?"

"Greetings in Christ. I have traveled from far away Devonshire in England on this my third pilgrimage. And yourself?" His voice is soft but firm, the voice of someone older than he looks.

"I am from very far away. It seems another time. I thought I would never find this place of legend, St. Antony's cells. What brings you so far from home?"

[I sense I am not alone, that God is with me even though I don't see. God is in the darkness and I hear him calling my name.] "I wanted to visit the place where I was taught so many years ago. Father Iraneus, who greeted you, was my spiritual guide. With all that is happening in Europe, the trouble with Constantinople, the Hundred Years War, I felt I needed to return to where I began. The rhythms of silence and prayer remind me of whom I serve."

"I can appreciate that. I too have left a tumultuous time. Did you leave a parish in England?"

"I was given sabbatical by the bishop. I am listening, waiting for God to reveal more of himself. I was given a dream which leads me to believe I will be chosen."

"What was your dream?"

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