I consider it an undeserved privilege when from time to time I am invited to teach one of our Wednesday evening adult education sessions. Truth be told, I don’t think of it as “teaching”. Nor do I think of those times as “education” opportunities. Rather, it seems to me we are there to share among friends our thoughts and experiences for the purpose of growing in our relationship with the Sacred Mystery we call God, with one another and honestly, we do this for the sake of our world. For if we, step by step, can mature in love, wisdom, faith, and compassion then and only then is there hope for our world.
Thus, in preparation for a deeper dive into an understanding of “The Wall” as Peter Scazerro, author of our book study, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, calls it – a lightbulb flashed on.
I realized I am living a version of this experience at this very moment in time. Now I could go on and on and on with the boring and inconsequential details of my life; but suffice it to say that I am experiencing a “stuckness.”
Many of the old ways I have of doing things are no longer working. I cannot seem to free myself from a myriad of behavioral patterns that I know have become a hinderance along my journey. My comfort zone is no longer comfortable. I want out of this quagmire in the worst way and feel helpless to do so.
I have no answers.
Indeed, time spent listening for the voice of God is crucial – in prayer, reading, study and service. Yet there have been a few other “ahas” that have given me pause for thought.
First, from former monk, psychotherapist and author, Thomas Moore: “At one time or another, most people go through a sadness, trial, loss, frustration, or failure that is so disturbing and long-lasting that it can be called a dark night of the soul. If your main interest in life is health, you may quickly try to overcome the darkness. But if you are looking for meaning, character, and personal substance, you may discover that a dark night has many important gifts for you…. Many people think that the point of life is to solve their problems and be happy. But happiness is usually a fleeting sensation. And you never get rid of problems. A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start.”
Let it be said, I am aware that a “dark night of the soul” comes in many different shapes and sizes. It is often triggered by a death, illness, life and faith crisis. But I don’t think comparing and/or judging one person’s experience to another, (as in, mine or his/hers are harder, easier, more or less important or debilitating) is helpful. All of these experiences can be scary. Yet I believe recognizing them, naming them, and having a willingness to wait for God’s movement is called for.
A new friend Tom says, “time and trust, patience and non-judgmental compassion are called for in matters of the soul, for life’s most important gifts are learned gradually.”
We become aware that Infinite Love is pouring Itself out to us as our lives. Love empowers me to awaken in freedom so that I can choose to give myself over to it or not.
I KNOW I am being asked to cross a boundary to where only Love is Real. I pray that day by day I will grow in understanding as to just what this means.