The past few days have been some of those dark nights of the soul that St. John of the Cross talks about. I have sensed despair, loneliness, and intense pain. To spare the emotions of some of my readers, I won’t go into details here, but I will say that the past two days have been spent hanging on for dear life. There wasn’t one event, or even a series of events that caused this dark night, but it merely showed up at my door and let itself in. Usually, this happens in the fall and in the spring for me. I begin to realize that my life is not the life I want to live.
The thing about these dark nights of the soul is that I spend several days in anguish, trying to figure out which mental illness I have by looking through every psychological website I can find, reading the DSM, and restraining myself from going to Counseling and Psych Services. I do all this worldly cure-searching to no avail, because I don’t consider that my spiritual life may just be in upheaval. I forget that I try to do things on my own. I forget that I wrestle with demons that cause me great suffering. I forget that sometimes God simply reminds me that I cannot live my life on my own. I have to return to [Them] for sustenance, guidance, fulfillment. I forget that I must rely on God in all things, not just for the few instances that I deem unsolvable by own power.
I know that like other people, I must go through these bouts of depression and inability to hear God’s voice or see God’s plan for my life in order to get through and understand. I know that I push through in order to attain the great things God has in store for me. Like St. John of the Cross, I know it is because of the darkness that I can appreciate the light: “O night that can unite/A lover and loved one,/A lover and loved one moved in unison.” The light doesn’t seem as bright without the spates of dark. The night unites me with my love: Jesus. I seek through the darkness for the one, true light.
Each time I return to Jesus: “Beyond myself, I eased/My forehead on my love where he reclined./All stopped. I lay released,/Leaving my care behind/Among the lilies, out of night and mind.” I find that I, too, can leave my cares behind, but only after I have wrestled through yet another dark night in which I feel separated and alone. But the beauty is that each time, I recognize my own depravity, selfishness, and inability to cope with life as it proceeds. I recognize my deeper spiritual desires and recognize that I cannot attain the spiritual perfection I desire in this life.
A translation of The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
Songs of the soul rejoicing at having achieved the high state of perfection, the Union with God, by way of spiritual negation.
Once in the dark of night,
Demented by hot yearning, I arose
(O gamble of delight!)
And went though no one knows,
Leaving behind a house in cold repose.
In darkness all went right,
By secret ladders, in clandestine clothes,
(O gamble of delight!)
In darkness I arose,
Leaving behind a house in cold repose.
And in the luck of night
In secret places where no other spied
I went without my sight
Without a light to guide
Except the heart that lit me from inside.
It guided me and shone
Surer than sunlight in the noonday blue
And lead me to the one,
The one I truly knew
Who waited with nobody else in view.
O guiding dark of night!
O dark of night more darling than the dawn!
O night that can unite
A lover and loved one,
A lover and loved one moved in unison.
And on my flowering breast
Which I had kept for him and him alone
He slept as I caressed
And loved him for my own,
Breathing an air from redolent cedars blown.
And from the castle wall
The wind came down to winnow through his hair
Bidding his fingers fall,
Searing my throat with air
And all my senses were suspended there.
Beyond myself, I eased
My forehead on my love where he reclined.
All stopped. I lay released,
Leaving my care behind
Among the lilies, out of night and mind.
You can read St. John of the Cross’s own explanation the Dark Night of the Soul by clicking here. I think many biblical figures went through these same dark nights: David, Paul, Jesus, Jeremiah, and Isaiah to name a few. When reading their writings, you see periods of intense love and longing for God, periods of intense isolation and loneliness, and then periods of restoration because the feeling of spiritual inadequacy is not uncommon.
i’m looking forward to hugging you.
Oddly. I am looking forward to that hug.
P.S. Not “oddly” because it’s you, but because it’s a hug. I am greatly looking forward to you. 😛
oh, now THAT makes me smile on a day when i need it, too 🙂
are you still thinking that Monday (it would be the ninth) would be an okay day to hang out with you? i emailing Sprunger again to ask what she’s thinking, but it’s looking like i may only swing through and have coffee with her (she’s swamped). i’m trying to put together some semblance of where i’m going to be and when, so i don’t leave you hanging : )
IF there’s another time/day that would be better for you, let me know. i know you’re way swamped, too.
I will be around on that Monday. I will not be there from 12-4, so either morning or evening would be nice. Evening might be nicer, so you can see both of us. 🙂
that’s okay. while you’re gone, i’ll swing by Barb Stedman’s office and see if i can find Eva, too…i’m still trying to figure out when/if i can see Sprunger, but her Monday schedule is the least hectic–every other day is jam-packed….
what are the chances i could sneak into your house late Sunday night (without waking you two up) and crash on your couch, if needed? i’d be coming from Indy after the concert, so i probably wouldn’t get there until after you’re in bed. would that be okay by you two?
What have I said about asking permission to come to our house? You do it again, I kick your ass. 🙂 I mean, it would be lovely if you would crash on our couch. Then you could go see Erin and Barb, and join us for dinner.
fine, FINE! kick my ass if you wanna!
(ben’s sitting next to me going, “hey, now…i don’t want that to happen…i’m not sure i could take her though…”)
that said, Erin called me tonight–here’s the plan, schtan!
i’ll drive from the concert in greenville to her place, crash there, be up early to hang out with her at breakfast before she goes to work on Monday morning, and be up to your place hopefully before you head to school at noon (uh…i wouldn’t see how i wouldn’t be…). then you go do your thing, and i’ll meet you when you’re done with your thing, then you and me and Becs do OUR thing on Monday night, and i stay at your place, cats and all!!
i’m so stinking excited!!! (recently, i’ve been so stinking excited that i’ve used several exclamation marks a couple of different times, which is a disturbing grammatical trend for me, and i hate it.
just…know that you’re loved.)
see you MONDAY! : D
See you then, Buddy. I am sure we can conjure up an amazing meal. And, I want to hear about everything NZ.
i’ll bring some kind of tasty whatnot. i promised Bec brick bread, so that may have to be the tasty whatnot : )