The Dark Night of the Soul, says Dr. Gerald May, sounds different in his patients when they speak. There may be (felt) discouragement, and silence from God. There may be a confusion, and a lack of spiritual “experience” or lack of sensation of the spiritual as there had been before. But, compared to his patients who have symptoms of depression, these folks do not have despair like those who are depressed do. They do not have the same cynicism, even though they may feel alone.
In the dark night times one knows transformation is underway. During times of depression, one hopes to return to normal.
Because God is not a “thing” but rather Spirit-all places at once-as we progress spiritually, invitations come to rebirth and journey closer to union with him as Spirit. What I speak of here is not a journey to a physical spot, but to an awareness of God, in a deeper, richer way. One that involves faith, not sight, or even the crutch of sensation, which may confused for God, but also cannot be God, in actuality.
We can leave behind the old methods of tapping into the spiritual that are like outgrown child’s clothing–too small for us. Ultimately, we move toward union with God in this way.
Some dark nights take years to move through. We must not fear them because they involve a greater revelation of God’s amazing grace and love. The end always results in greater insights of God’s love, and greater union with the Divine, in a brighter day.
In Part III, I will talk about the “Dawn” from the Dark Night.
Some information taken from my reading: Gerald G. May, M.D. The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth. Harper San Francisco, 2004.
My (upcoming) book Life as Prayer: A New Paradigm for contemporary Spirituality Inspired by Ancient Piety dedicates a whole chapter to this topic. I will update this blog with details as this work continues. Thanks for your interest. I welcome your thoughts and comments.