Dark nights of the soul is a term coined in the sixteenth century by
Mother Theresa experienced a very long dark night of the soul. In her early days, she felt she had a direct connection to Jesus, who called her to create a new institution in to directly serve the poor. Then she lost that direct connection to Jesus – he abandoned her, so to speak. Her deep devotion and faith carried her through the rest of her life. (For more on Mother Theresa, please read Mother Theresa: Come be my Light)
For mere mortals like us, the dark night can be a passing phase or a longer one. I have a lot of passing dark nights of the soul – there are times when I’ll go days, even weeks, without meditating or journaling, my two primary spiritual practices. Sometimes I am angry at the Divine because of my (in retrospect, pathetic} interpretation of events and I need to boycott God for a while. Sometimes, I am rebelling against surrendering to the Divine’s way (I could say “the Divine’s will” but that is too strong for even me). I think there is, in all of us, a streak of the disciple Peter, who was often rebelling or negotiating with Jesus and God. Othertimes, such as right now, I am afraid. Afraid, perhaps, of my own power, afraid to take the next step spiritually. I feel I am on the threshold of a big shift.
I find it interesting that I am being tempted during this dark night. I recognize it for what it is, I interpret tempation as a challenge to rise above it and hold fast to my intention.
What’s important in these times is to recognize that this is a passing phase and that a fallow time is not only good for fields (according to the Hebrew bible, fields should be left to rest every seven years, hence our idea of a sabbatical leave from work). Fallow time is good for the soul. It’s OK to be estranged from our connection for a while. The trick is in gently steering ourselves back to our former spiritual practices, or to change our practices to something more suitable for our current evolutionary stage.
Forgiveness of self starts with providing love and compassion to ourselves as we go through these dark times.
Infinite Intelligence, grant me the perspective to see through the darkness to the dawning light. Amen.