“Faith is a dark night for man, but in this very way it gives him light.”
— St. John of the Cross (1542–1591)
Darkest night strains the sight,
Of the servant lonely and awry,
Defines the season – where one must fight,
Using faith in despair to defy!
The Mystic Doctor of the Church and Spanish Carmelite, St. John of the Cross, found intimacy with God through what he called the dark night of the soul: to enter one’s own languishment – and, in many ways, to do so willingly.
Elsewhere, the mystic says, “Do the most difficult, the harshest, the less pleasant, the unconsoling, the lowest and most despised, want nothing, look for the worst.” Clearly it is the way when we are in this dark night place of a soul’s torment; to retain the goal of dissatisfaction.
Yet it makes no sense to us; us who are in our comfortable palaces of palatability. Life anesthetises us to the realities a world away, but never more real – we never know when a dark night experience might intrude upon the soul!
Faith Works, But Faith Takes Us to the Brink of Anarchy
Faith is a must when we have turned into a dark night nether region of the soul; a circumstance we cannot turn back on – where we must keep trudging forward (though forwards often feels backwards).
Faith in itself is a dark night experience, for we must want not for ourselves.
Faith contends with the dark night experience simply because it fights like with like; it’s a sort of cancelling-out feature of method, where we willingly choose for the tougher thing in order that the easier thing would come in its own time, by its own invitation.
In what might sound barbaric, we must take to ourselves with a humble self-discipline, to negate the effect of the world, as we battle the unrelenting season.
The truth is this: faith is the choice, the volition of a godly will as we choose it, and it always strengthens us, ironically in these cases, to enact resilience by pure choice.
God will give us power to trust and obey when we journey by faith. And by faith we have everything we need without having anything. Yet faith is the only real possession any of us can have.
Faith is the only possession of worth to take into a dark night of the soul. Faith sheds light in the darkness; light enough only for the next step. But faith makes the dark night seem worse, unless we resolve this truth: faith is the only sane option.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.