The Dark Night Of The Soul: A Pilgrim's Journey
edited: Wednesday, June 21, 2006
By Candida L Eittreim
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2006
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For Robert Ferguson
The Dark Night of The Soul, as defined by the mystic St. John of the Cross, is described as a purgation of spiritual imperfections. Many modern theologians claim that it is a rare phenomenon in modern society. I've no way of judging that. I only know I experienced it, and hope I never have to undergo such a long separation from God, as I did then.
I have always been a pilgrim, seeking the way to spiritual fulfillment. All along the years, there had always been someone who would appear to help keep me on my quest, which is intensely personal. In addition, my experiences with the "otherness" of God had been intense and deep. I never felt truly alone, always sensing this invisible connectedness to Him.
Several years prior, one day, sitting on the steps, enjoying the warm September sun, suddenly, everything became preturnaturally quiet. Every leaf on each tree suddenly was delineated in luminescent detail, and I felt an inner urging to "be still and listen to your Lord" Pretty certain I had entered the zonked zone and gone crazy, I found myself unable to move.
Another inner thought came "I am the Potter, you are but clay, and I will break you, to heal your soul." Then it began-a relentless, merciless look at my behaviors, my wrongs, my total unwillingness to take responsibility for my part in things that had gone wrong. Weeping, I felt able to move, and stumbled into the house, where I fell on my couch and wept for a very long time, as I realized the import of my own ugly behaviors.
Forgive me, forgive me I pled for what seemed like hours, until that same inner urging "pushed" me to begin making amends. For one full year, I spent my nights praying as I reviewed my actions, and all the people I had hurt throughout my life. I asked each one separately, either in person or in prayer for forgiveness.
It changed my life completely, and freed others to finally accept that all the old bitterness and pain were gone.With the completion of this purgation, I had felt a renewal of the bond between myself and my Lord.
So when the cord was suddenly severed, I actually felt its leaving, its absence immediately. And for 5 long years I struggled alone without sensing His loving Presence.
There was a sense of outrage too. How dare He leave like that? What had I done wrong? And on and on for the first 3 years, desolate, I wept, prayed, and questioned why-why had this happened? This was the old nemesis ego exerting its ugly power over a shattered soul again.
Then I saw. All the ugly intellectual pretension and presumption on my part, in assuming I understood His truth's. In my quest to understand His nature, to seek answers to the many questions, fellow seekers have, I had over intellectualized, became enamoured of my own knowledge, and in doing so had fallen from the Way.
Only those who have undergone this period of utter deprivation and spiritual isolation can understand the horrifying loneliness. It's like being locked in a cold sterile place where prayers are left unheard.
Only after two more years of asking humbly for Him to show me what He wanted of me, and my willingnness to let go of self, did the Long Dark Night of the Soul end for me.
In utter humility and possessing only a desire to do His will, to recognize my complete dependence on Him for the least breath I take, today I'm happy just to be a firefly for God. To try and live a life of love and constant forgiveness, both for myself and others, and to keep things simple.
Was all the pain worth it? yes, for having shed the finery of pretension and intellectual religious elitism, I earned my Friend back. That to me is a pearl beyond price.