Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Dark Nights

I doubt that anyone has escaped dark nights of the soul.  Every person, every relationship, every family has gone through times of sadness, trial, betrayal, loss, dysfunction, frustration, abuse, rebellion, division or failure. No one and no relationship is immune.  Many of us try to cover it up, to pretend, or make-believe that everything is going smoothly, that nothing is troubling us, that somehow we have avoided the dark, but it just isn’t so.  Thomas Moore in “Dark Nights of the Soul, “ writes:  “Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference.”

We deal with these dark nights in various ways.  Many of us delude ourselves by thinking that it just isn’t real and we turn to superficial ways of ignoring it.  Others become depressed and dysfunctional.  But the dark night of the soul will not go away by any of these means.

The common notion is that the dark night is a form of depression.  It can be, but it may not be, but depression is often a by-product.  The dark night is part of our human existence, and I believe a part of our encounter with the world within ourselves and the World Beyond (God).  It cannot be avoided by denial, medication, or by making believe it isn’t happening to us.

How we think about the dark night of the soul makes all the difference.  None of us choose it.  It is given.  It can be a gift or a menace depending on whether or not we acknowledge it and work with it.  The important thing is to work with it!  Moore suggests that by working with the dark, we may get “close to it and sift it for its gold.”  If, indeed, the dark night of the soul is a divine/human encounter it could lead to light at the end of the tunnel—a resurrection—a transformation.

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