Monday, May 10, 2010

A Dirty Day and the Dark Night

Some days are simply dirty. We get out of bed though we want to climb back in. We put on our working clothes but we hardly want to. We want, on some levels, to do the things we’ve planned, but we can’t wrest from our minds the urge to want to play it safe and divert from them.

Inexplicably we move, but slowly, awkwardly, and we don’t know how. No matter how, or what we try, it won’t be fixed; not today.

And we hope against hope, if we’re aware, that this scourge, this film, will be lifted tomorrow, even today. We frighten ourselves in a moment as we gaze at the vast possibilities this could last. Not good.

There’s an inevitability about it—this state we’re experiencing. Something has us, and this… it’s just beyond our will.

And it’s not about hope. Hope doesn’t even come into it. It’s a base-level drive that’s entered nihilism. Our energy is occluded. We hardly thought it possible—it’s taken over our sense of faith and meaning. But, only, it seems, for a day… or two.

And we pray, “Please, Lord, release me from this.”

Scary isn’t it, that we can face such inexplicable events of heart and spirit—the soul in turmoil; the dirty day gives way to a dark night of the soul... indeed!

“For the spiritual and the sensual desires are put to sleep and mortified, so that they can experience (lit. taste) nothing, either Divine or human; the affections of the soul are oppressed and constrained, so that they can neither move nor find support in anything; the imagination is bound and can make no useful reflection; the memory is gone; the understanding is in darkness, unable to understand anything; and hence the will likewise is arid and constrained and all the faculties are void and useless; and in addition to all this a thick and heavy cloud is upon the soul, keeping it in affliction, and, as it were, far away from God. It is in this kind of ‘darkness’ that the soul says here it travelled ’securely.’”[1]

“Therefore, O spiritual soul, when thou seest thy desire obscured, thy affections arid and constrained, and thy faculties bereft of their capacity for any interior exercise, be not afflicted by this, but rather consider it a great happiness, since God is freeing thee from thyself and taking the matter from thy hands.”[2]

In the ‘dirty day’s experience’ of the dark night the soul there is at least safety. Like the Footprints poem we’re freed from ourselves and God alone has us within his firm but gentle grip—in the hands of God we are.

What a God we have that we’re safest in our darkest hour with no strength, but his, to contend.

So, know, if you may be there... ‘In darkness and secure.’ Trust in it.

Yesterday... a dirty day. Today is new.

© 2009, 2010 S. J. Wickham.

This article was inspired, in part, by U2’s song, Dirty Day.

[1] St. John of the Cross, “Explains how, though in darkness, the soul walks securely” in Dark Night of the Soul (Book II, Chapter XVI). Retrieved 27 May 2009.

[2] St. John of the Cross, Ibid.

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