Dark Days 6: The Dark Night

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We never begin with the goal of becoming depressed. We don’t plan to go through life disproportionally weighting little things within our velcro brains. Despite how it seems, we don’t end up in dark days because everything around us went to hell. Dark days are placed upon us by a larger, more benevolent force for the purpose of expansion.

If we can’t subscribe to the above thesis, then our only option is to deflect our dark days via a combination of traditional psychotherapy, pharmacological intervention, and CBT.

If this thesis is at least possible, then we have access to a truth narrative big enough to counterbalance our suffering. In this sphere both the mystics and the puritans have something to offer.

St. John of the Cross was a mystic who wrote “The Dark Night of the Soul.” In this work he outlines what he calls our purgation via several nights. Too many from religious backgrounds interpret dark days as apostasy or God being angry and punishing us for our wrongdoings, leaving us in a state of hopelessness. St. John beautifully illustrates the opposite if we have eyes to see it.

A loving parent always weens her child. Similarly, St. John depicts a loving God withholding certain comforts, consolations, and experiences in order that we come to know the essence or nature of God rather than his/her affects. The dark night of the soul is the crucible of suffering through which we come to a deeper, broader understanding of ultimate reality. Dark days are not detours from life, but the portals to a deep life.

Depression and anxiety are the loss of consolations, but faith knows these to be temporary and worthwhile for our inner self (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Henry Scudder was a puritan who wrote “The Christian’s Daily Walk.” For Scudder, the soul suffers due to distempered thoughts. Depression and anxiety are depicted as a court jester blowing a feather aloft in the presence of the king. Dark days are the result of losing the big picture via distraction. Our modern mindset can learn a lot from diligent attention to the long view. Spiritual maturity always provides a perspective which is a corrective lens to the myopia that slinks amidst our darkest days.

C.S. Lewis compares the process of gaining spiritual maturity to that of an unborn baby. The baby, not knowing all that is before it, may very well prefer to stay warm and safe in the womb, and will resent all contractions.

Through the spiritual lens, our dark days are the precursors to a profound expansion if we will give ourselves to the process. Powerlessness introduces us to True Power. The soul’s searchlight of hope shines very dark at first.

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