Monday, October 7, 2013

Enduring the Dark Night of the Soul Experience


“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.

1 comment:

  1. Steve...just read your article on Faith and the Dark Night.Thank you! Faith is truly necessary for enduring many of life's trials & difficulties but inside an authentic Dark Night everything we knew becomes inverted.I speak from personal experience and am now just past 3 years within this darkness. I believe the Trappist monk Thomas Merton described this very well: ... ''''IT IS THIS TESTING,THIS FIRE OF PURGATION,THAT BURNS OUT THE HUMAN AND ACCIDENTAL ELEMENTS OF FAITH IN ORDER TO LIBERATE THE DEEP SPIRITUAL POWER IN THE CENTER OF OUR BEING.'' Similarly,the poet T.S.Eliot wrote: ...''BUT THE FAITH AND THE HOPE AND THE LOVE ARE ALL IN THE WAITING.AND THE DARKNESS SHALL BE THE LIGHT AND THE STILLNESS THE DANCING.'' So,are they and others suggesting we forgo faith within the darkness? Not exactly.Rather,they are suggesting that an ordeal or this magnitude will require much more than the ''old faith''(..regardless of how refined and committed it was.) New wine is not to be poured into old wineskins and to enable this our faith must transform as well.The story of Job when properly understood appears to suggest the same.As one wise person stated...Job didn't suffer so because he had sinned.Job was a righteous man in every conceivable way.Job,despite all the misinterpretations otherwise,suffered so that he might see and know God.Thank you again for the post! Rob

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