Illuminated Calm

If I had covered my ears to shut out pain’s noisy voice, I would have missed hearing Spirit’s whisper, her invitation into the dark night of the soul. I could have avoided the night altogether or at least shortened the length of time there, but never experienced the illuminated calm that waited on the other side.

I felt trapped. I wanted to move forward and yet go back to belonging and engaging God, in understandable ways. Spirit offered me more, but to live into more, I had to pass through the dark night, a vague groundless space, which would require pulling up stakes, claims that were grounding me to smaller circumstances.

Spirit nudged me to release my grip of possessiveness on any person, position or power, which I believed myself deserving. Therein lay the struggle, for some of my ideals, my controls, were blinding me from Love’s broader view.

Somewhere in the daily altercations with self, I realized sharper discernment. I came through on the other side of the dark, clearly humbled, kinder to myself and truer to others.

The change was gradual and continued long after the dark night was over. It was beyond critical thinking, broader truths or a morphed theology. I had experienced transformation. I saw sacredness everywhere!

When people ask me about my journey through the dark night of the soul, they often comment on the length of time I spent there in a sort of conversational prayer, “Oh God, I hope I am not in this vague place for nine years!” And even though my life went on as usual, I too, wondered when I would find a sense of ground again.

But maybe that is the point, to accept Mystery’s call, letting Love knock us off our sureties whether in the uncertain dark night or by the bright light of day. Holding a friend’s projections with compassion connects us to Love’s cross and the suffering of Christ. Meeting our loving other in a breath-taking moment leaves us in speechless wonder and in a flash we find ourselves in sync with all that is holy, floating like bride and groom through a Chagall painting.

I came through the dark night of the soul knowing that I wanted to companion people who had accepted Spirit’s call into the groundless dark that deepens one’s faith. Through the years, I have found much pleasure engaging my senses in explainable, light-filled practices (kataphatic), but more and more, Mystery’s intimate call (apophatic) woos me like a lover into moments of awe, surrounded by an illuminated calm.

Sacred Ruminations*