One word

This week I want to share something with you that I found particularly interesting. I have been reading Laura Munson’s book “This is Not the Story You Think It Is…” and toward the beginning (actually in the 2nd chapter) there is this amazing excerpt that Laura shares with us. Perhaps you’ve heard of it before. Indeed it’s fairly reminiscent of a through-line in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (perhaps both ladies read the same author – I don’t know). What I do know is I want to share it with you now, as well as Laura’s thoughts and words leading up to the excerpt. From Laura:

“And then I remember an excerpt from a book that has seen me through hard times before. It’s called The Cloud of Unknowing. In it, an anonymous fourteenth-century Christian mystic writer asks us to choose a word. One word. And to fasten it to our hearts. That word, working in us, will bring us through the hardest times. Or so the anonymous writer promises. In my life, that word has been many things. God, love, hope, truth, joy, grace, beauty, wonder, surrender, freedom. Right now it is more simple than any of those things. It is not a deity or a goal or a state of being. It’s an action verb. It is simply: breathe.”

And here is the excerpt:

“Take just a little word of one syllable rather than two . . . Such a one is the word God or the word love. Choose which you prefer . . . and fasten this word to your heart so that whatever happens it will never go away. This word is to be your shield and your spear, whether you are riding in peace or in war. With this word you are to beat upon the cloud and the darkness above and beneath you. With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought, driving it down into a pool of forgetting. If any thought should press upon you, asking what you would have, answer with no word but this one. If your thoughts should offer, out of their great learning to analyze your word for you and tell you its meanings, say to your thoughts that you want to keep it whole . . . It is not a matter of analyzing or elucidating . . . No one can truly think of God. It is therefore my wish to leave everything that I can think and choose for my love the thing that I cannot think. God can be loved but not thought. He can be taken and held by love, but not by thought.”

For me, this is one of the most poignant and simple things I’ve read in a while. I have to admit, I have not yet read ‘Eat, Pray, Love,” but I did see the movie, and I spent the following few days thinking of my word. And then I picked up Laura’s book (which is a must-read), and the same suggestion was laid before me to ponder. And I urgently thought, “What IS my word?” “Do I even have a word?” “Am I a failure if I can’t come up with a word? One word?” Geesh!

The problem was I couldn’t come up with just one. I had several, actually, that felt ‘right’ for me. So – how could I choose? Was it: faith, light, peace, authenticity, or truth? What was my word? You probably know from previous writings that I refer to God in many ways, as God encompasses so much for me. So, I tried “God” on for size – and I still felt like I couldn’t settle on one word. And yet the author was so clear. One word. One one-syllable word. That’s all. How was I going to do this? And then I realized something. It wasn’t about the ONE word. It was about the act of making a decision, and holding it. For me, what mattered more than the word was making a choice. And once I settled down, stepped away from my mind and allowed myself the room to choose – you know what happened? I chose Me. I’m not sure it gets simpler than that. Me.

Some of you may think that odd – but it’s the most authentic, loving, peaceful, happy, light and divine word I can come up with. By choosing “me” and fastening myself to my heart – I have chosen to step into my own power. I have chosen to honor who I am as an expression of something Divine. And I have chosen to feel the freedom that comes with making such a decision.

In the end, it became much simpler than I was making it. There are so many words I could have chosen along the way to help me through difficult times. But they would be transient words, ever-changing in the face of challenges. The one word that would never change is simply Me. And for that realization I can honestly say I am incredibly grateful. Thank you, Laura. Thank you, Liz. And thank you anonymous Christian mystic for prompting me to make the choice.

In love and light,


  • lauramunson
    October 10th, 2010 · Reply

    Martina– I love your word. I love how you came to your word. I love THAT you came to your word.

    I found “The Cloud of Unknowing” through an author friend in 1996 when I had my first child. I hadn’t read the Christian mystics yet, and it was an immense discovery which changed my life. This is a deeply powerful book. Not sure if Liz Gilbert has read it. I don’t recall that section in her book, but I read Eat Pray Love the year it came out, which I think was about 7 years ago so I remember more the feel of it. We’re both seekers, and we both are committed to learn from crisis. I think that’s why uplifting memoirs are so popular right now. People are hungry for messages of empowerment.

    I’m so glad that my book helped inspire your word, and I’m so thankful that you shared about it here.

    It touched me deeply.

    • Kaedn
      October 10th, 2013 · Reply

      If you want to get read, this is how you sholud write.

  • soma
    October 10th, 2010 · Reply

    Thank you for explaining the word and how it can help us find God is within each one of us. Opening our consciousness to the unity of God’s pure spiritual consciousness in Christian Mysticism reveals God in the condition of love, which is a kind of spiritual and physical unity. This unity shows us that God’s pure consciousness is within, not far removed from us, but with us in the here and now. The word is a technique to show us what is already there shinning light upon us. It helps us to see without the mind.

    • Tish
      October 10th, 2013 · Reply

      I’m graeuftl you made the post. It’s cleared the air for me.

  • Martina
    October 11th, 2010 · Reply

    Thank you so much Laura – you are an inspiration. I love your book….and I will definitely pick up “The Cloud of Unknowing” in the near future. Thank you for being a part of my journey and path.

    Soma – I love what you’ve shared. Thank you.

    All the best,
    in Love and Light,

    • Cayle
      September 28th, 2013 · Reply

      Thanks for sharing. Your post is a useful conntiburiot.

  • procrastination
    June 10th, 2013 · Reply

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