The Dark Night of the Soul

Monday, May 16, 2011

I first heard the phrase when I was studying counselling a number of years ago, from a deeply spiritual lecturer who had a great love of the Christian Mystics. In the moment, I paid little attention, though the phrase must have been planted deep within my subconscious, floating upwards to the realm of awareness from time to time.

I paid no mind to the phrase until recently, when it again planted itself at the forefront of my mind, perhaps by an act of the Grace of God.

"Dark night of the soul is a metaphor used to describe a phase in a person's spiritual life, marked by a sense of loneliness and desolation. A dark night of the soul is not something that one can choose to initiate — or participate in. The person's role in such a time is not significant. During this obscure time, God works in a person's unconscious to bring about healing and growth."

The poem written by 16th century Spanish poet and Carmelite priest, Saint John of the Cross, whilst imprisoned, describes the soul's journey, the "dark night", to the "divine union of the love of God." However, St. John does not simply describe the journey; he seems at times to be offering encouragement and comfort directly to readers as they too struggle with the excruciating dark night.

About 5 years ago, coincidently (or not) around the time that I first heard of the 'Dark Night of the Soul', I lay in bed pleading with God, during a dark time, to reveal to me with absolute surety that He loved me. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt, in my heart, despite all the wounding and rejection I'd experienced that God's heart toward me was full of unfailing love.

A great deal of time later I am convinced that it has been a lengthy process, not because God is taking His time in revealing His love for me, however it requires the removal of all the lies, events and beliefs that have damaged and built a scarred wall between me and the truth that already exists.

Over the last 6 months my Dark Night of the Soul has reared it's seemingly ugly head, breaking my heart like never before. If I am honest, there have been times where I have wanted to die. However my desperate hope, wildly daring to peer beyond the black night is.....

I pray that at the end of this night, I mighty be able to speak into the darkness of another and reveal with surety and clarity the truth of the 'Dark Night of the Soul'.........that the sun does indeed rise.

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