Wise Words – By Our Love, Not By Our Thinking

By our love not by our thinking

“By our love the Sacred may be touched and held; by our thinking, never.”

The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 6


Thinking is not wrong, it just gets too much air time in our hyper-productive, over-stimulated society.

When applied to problems it is good at, its answers seem complete:  How many grams are in a cup? When is the next solar eclipse? How much weight can this bridge design hold? These are questions with definite answers, and logic is ideally suited to deliver them. This leaves the false impression that thinking is a superior pathway to understanding. 

But we humans are multi-dimensional. For all its usefulness, logic cannot reach the parts of life we hold most dear:  the waves of love we feel holding our newborn child or grandchild; the subtle smile in the eyes of our spouse or partner; intuitive bursts of creativity; an inspired refrain of Bob Dylan or Beethoven; the upswept majesty of entering a cathedral. These are sacred experiences and no logical explanation of them is complete or fulfilling. They need to be embraced by another dimension of our being.

We don’t know who wrote the 14th-century text, The Cloud of Unknowing. He was an English monk from an unknown monastic order writing about how to reach the Divine through contemplative prayer. He invites us to consider that love is the proper pathway for understanding the Sacred.

In its truest sense, everything is sacred. It is false to think the cathedral is more sacred than the grass outside its door. It is all imbued with the original divinity that permeates the universe. The distinction between the ordinary and the holy lies in me and my limited perception.

And love can remove that limitation, says our 14th-century friend. Love is a pathway that widens my perception to match the sacred nature of the world. 

The purpose of the Sacred is not to be explained but to be inspired by, immersed in, filled from, drenched with, and transported to. Sacredness is not an inherent quality of things; it is a way of seeing things in their truest light. Seeing in this way opens us to questions of ultimate meaning and a deeper inquiry into that part of ourselves that is so irreducible we call it our soul.

What does it mean that we touch and hold the Sacred by our love? If by love we mean,

to accept others as they are,
to hold their interests as dearly as our own,
to offer kindness as our first response,
to enter conflict tenderly, to forgive,
to tend the earth as the rare garden that it is,
to surrender expectations, to be of service,
to apply our efforts for the common good,
to beckon the wisdom of our souls to guide us,
to welcome Spirit into the center of our hearts,

If we endeavor these aspirations in the name of love, then our vision will be changed. We will see the Sacred in everything we touch. We will have accepted the invitation from a medieval monk sent seven centuries past.

Photo by Daniel Ramírez on Unsplash

2 Replies to “Wise Words – By Our Love, Not By Our Thinking”

  1. I notice a belief that it’s “better” to be in your heart, not your head. I have learned they are partners & work together very well when we allow them too…along with Head, Heart, Gut, etc…we are whole beings who can become integrated by being intentional about trusting all of our ways of knowing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *