A Conversation with Carmen Acevedo Butcher – Brother Lawrence and The Cloud of Unknowing


Matt Whitney

The practice of the presence is a form of micro-prayer done on the fly. A mini-conversation with God. A brief “lifting up of the heart.” Done anywhere, anytime, the practice is perfect for anyone. We can’t fail at it. It’s shorter than a tweet. It takes less time than sending a text. Brother Lawrence says: “In the middle of your tasks you can comfort yourself with Love as often as you can.” The presence is for all people everywhere: “Everyone is capable of these familiar conversations with God.”

– Carmen Acevedo Butcher

Recently, SDI hosted a free webinar with Carmen Acevedo Butcher, an internationally acclaimed speaker, author, educator, and poet. Carmen specializes in Early Modern French, German, Latin, Middle English, and Old English mystic writers. You can watch it below, or find the audio conversation on the SDI Encounters Podcast (available here, or wherever you get your podcasts).

The Cloud of Unknowing (Middle English: The Cloude of Unknowyng) is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a primer on contemplative prayer in the late Middle Ages. The text points to knowing God irrespective of particular attributes by being bold enough to surrender into “unknowing”, which is the only way to truly know God.

Born Nicolas Herman, Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, OCD (c. 1614 – 12 February 1691) served as a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris. Christians honor him for the intimacy with which he connects to God, as recorded in his classic work, compiled after his death, The Practice of the Presence of God.

SDI is starting a four-part series on two mystics: Brother Lawrence and The Cloud of Unknowing. The series will be hosted by Carmen Acevedo Butcher and begins on April 5th, 2023. You can join anytime and watch the recorded sessions at your convenience. Learn more and register on our website.

Join us for a deep dive into the writings and teachings of these great mystics. Carmen Acevedo Butcher will facilitate the series and guide us in exploring the meaning beyond the words. We will engage in practices like singing and contemplating to experience the deep love underlying their writings.

These writers lived through plagues, wars, and trials similar to what we face today. They are relatable spiritual companions who have walked these paths before us. How did they grapple with the crises of their times? Join us to nourish our souls with hope.


Carmen Acevedo Butcher is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author, educator, and poet. She is an award-winning translator of works in Early Modern French, German, Latin, Middle English, and Old English by writers including Brother Lawrence.

Matt Whitney

Matt Whitney

Matt is the Creative Director for SDI.



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