Thursday, September 22, 2016

dark night

St. John of the Cross 1542-1591 is credited with being the primary source of the concept that we today call "the dark night of the soul."  Although many monastic types have written about it, the formula for the dark night usually runs something like this.  The steps involve the common experience of the believer in his or her journey towards God.

  1. Awakening - the human wakes up to God and becomes a believer.  They begin the journey towards God.
  2. Purgation - a time of cleansing when the Holy Spirit begins to steer the believer away from self.  This can be very painful.
  3. Dark night - a common experience where the believer feels that God has withdrawn.  Often the person's thoughts get stuck in their own unworthiness.  There is often depression, a plodding along in life.  The dry soul searching for God.
  4. Enlightenment- on the back side of the dark night comes enlightenment.  The clouds part, the mist lifts and the believer finds union with God.
Mother Teresa is said to have lived much of her life in a dark night, only to find the joy of union with God in her later years.

I think that most people, especially those who are serious about their spiritual journey will experience a dark night at some time.  They are painful and can last weeks or even years.

I have had my dark nights.  One of the blessings of a dark night is that it causes you to seek God even harder.  It's like we are lazy when things are going well, but in the dark valleys we cry out to God with a fervor that we might otherwise not.  If you are in the middle of a dark time, hold on.  There is hope on the other side.  Although we may not see that God is with us, he is!  He never leaves us.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.  

1 comment:

Wendy Minshall said...

One of the things I love so much about Mother (Saint) Teresa is that even during all of the 'dark nights' (50 years worth of dark nights!) she never stopped serving God- never stopped being Jesus to 'the least of these.'

I pray that in the dark nights of my soul- I still consciously choose to do good for the sake of Christ.