What hurts can also bless—darkness can be a window.Rumi
St. John of the Cross, the 16th century Spanish mystic wrote of the soul’s journey to mystical union with God in his poem The Dark Night of the Soul. It is a tender and passionate expression of deep longing—the soul’s love poem to God. The darkness refers, not to despair, but rather to the fact that God, and even the path to God, is unknowable by the intellect. God can only be found through the breaking open of one’s heart. Try as we might, attempts to wrangle one’s way to God always fail. Only the admission of vulnerability and the acceptance of our need for communion—common union—light the path.
Our country, our city, and our world are in the darkness of unknowing right now. Epidemiologists give us their best information based on their vast knowledge and experience. And yet they are the first to say that they cannot predict detailed outcomes. They tell us there is no magic bullet nor magic vaccine. The epidemiologists tell us that we are community. We are profoundly connected. They tell us that the trajectory of this global pandemic depends upon our own choices and behavior. Our path to well-being hangs upon our admission of vulnerability and the acceptance of our need to care for each other as for ourselves.
I’m guessing St. John of the Cross wasn’t thinking about the 21st century when he wrote his beautiful love poem to God. But his truth speaks out to us today. Are we not seeing that the intellect alone cannot bring us through this? Are not our hearts breaking open in the midst of this pandemic? Are we not being forced to sit with the intensity of facing our own self having nothing to distract us? Are we not realizing the limitations of a “me only,” orientation?
If we choose, this darkness can become a window and hurt be transformed into blessing. We can choose to discover God’s Presence in us and within all people and all circumstances. We can admit with St. John that we really long for God, we long for good, but that we are in the dark without a clue. We can do what he did—we can simply be humble enough to call out our longing into the dark. We can rest in the assurance that Love will respond. “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.” Psalm 17:6
In the Love and Light of the Christ,