Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Dark Nights

Noche Oscura is The Dark Night. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross wrote about dark nights of the soul. The term has come into common parlance as meaning a bad time, a dry time or a hopeless time. We think of the “dark night” as a time when we can’t feel God’s presence. But Richard Rohr writes about the dark nights and he says that what Teresa and John were really talking about was dark nights as a spiritually necessary time.

Teresa of Avila’s dark night was a mind-shifting time. It preceded great growth and her magnificent books. This is not exactly the “Life is suffering” that Scott Peck writes about but “necessary” because, as Rohr says, the dark night of the soul is when God is actually deeply close, so close that he is working in us. These are the times God is so deep in us that it’s almost like he is doing surgery.

In steps 6 and 7 we ask to be healed, we ask to be relived, we say to God “I am willing and I have tried and now if it’s ever gonna change it’s up to you”. Then we ache. Often we say that surrender is painful, but through the lens of writers like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, we can see this as the kind of necessary pain that comes with healing.

A few years ago I took care of a friend who had just had a serious surgery and I could see his healing pain up close. The first thing that the nurses said when he woke up from surgery was, “Get out of that bed and walk.” They were adamant: “You have to “ambulate”--get up and walk”.

It made me think about Jesus when he performed acts of healing and he would say matter-of-factly,“Take up your bed and walk.”

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