darkness

If I could let myself fall

I had done everything I knew how to do to draw as near to the heart of God as I could only to find myself out of gas on a lonely road, filled with bitterness and self-pity. To suppose that I had ended up in such a place by the grace of God required a significant leap of faith. If I could open my hands, then all that fell from them might flower on the way down. If I could let myself fall, then I too might land in a fertile place.

~ Barbara Brown Taylor
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
By Barbara Brown Taylor

Absolutely cler

Don't surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God
Absolutely
Clear.

~ Hafiz
The Gift
By Hafiz

I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work

I am the one whose praise
echoes on high...
I call forth tears,
the aroma of holy work.
I am the yearning for the good.

~ Hildegarde of Bingen

I saw that there was an ocean of darkness

I saw that there was an ocean
of darkness and death,
But an infinite ocean of light
and love flowed over the ocean
of darkness.

~ George Fox

September 2014 (Vol. XXVII, No. 8)

In the aftermath of Robin Williams' death, I read a piece by a Buddhist practitioner* who pondered whether it might sometimes help to perceive depression as one of many layers of co-mingling life-states that ebb and flow within us. Not in any way meaning to negate the inexplicable, heart-wrenching reality of mental illness or medical and mental health workers' avenues of support toward healing, might there sometimes be another way to frame the experience of depression within a context that could offer insight and hope? Jesus faced Gethsemane, the psalmist cries out from the soul's depths, and poets and spiritual leaders draw from desert and wilderness times to understand themselves and the world. Given that many wisdom paths speak of the "dark night of the soul" or befriending the dark or learning what our shadow side has to teach, what insights and hope can our faith traditions offer?

If you are in the dark, it does mean that you have failed

If you are in the dark, it does not mean that you have failed and that you have taken some terrible misstep. For many years I thought my questions and my doubt and my sense of God's absence were all signs of my lack of faith, but now I know this is the way the life of the spirit goes.

~ Barbara Brown Taylor
Learning to Walk in the Dark
By Barbara Brown Taylor

Darkness can be understood to represent emptiness

Darkness can be understood to represent emptiness, the complete overcoming of ignorance: the false perception of reality, the illusion of dualism, of anything existing separately. Emptiness, the womb of enlightenment, can be understood symbolically as darkness ... Emptiness is not nothing. Emptiness refers to the radical insight that there is no individually existing, independently arising, separate self. All that is, is in constant flux, rising and falling in relationship to and with something else. Emptiness is the black of starless midnight, imminence, that comes before the pre-dawn of enlightenment, the "clear light", a state of translucence or transparency that is beyond dark and light. This is a radiant black. This is wisdom.

~ from LONGING FOR DARKNESS by China Galland

In darkness, surrender

Quietly, help me to clear.
Hold me in your wings
that I may trust.
In darkness, surrender.
My own way tortured.

Better, a listening prayer.

~ from ON EARTH AND IN HEAVEN poems by Gretchen Shartle
On Earth and in Heaven
By Gretchen Shartle

The night of inner quiet

A hindrance to the fullness of Divine Presence is the lack of silence. The Word comes only in a deeper way when peaceful silence encompasses everything. I may refuse to enter into the night of inner quiet, of non-resistance to the Divine. Then my life is doomed to remain parched and lifeless -- a wasteland. Silence is a gentler rhythm of speaking out and keeping still. The cultivation of silence belongs to the gentle style of life.

~ from SPIRITUALITY AND THE GENTLE LIFE by Adrian van Kaam

If the heavens grew silent

If to anyone the tumult of the flesh grew silent,
silent the images of earth and sea and air;
and if the heavens grew silent,
and the very soul grew silent to herself;
if all dreams and images grew silent,
and every tongue and every symbol --
everything that passes away ...
and in their silence You spoke to us,
not by them, but You yourself;
so that we should hear Your Word,
not by any tongue of the flesh,
not in the voices of an angel,
not in the sound of thunder,
nor in the darkness of a parable --
but that we should hear You ...
should hear You and not them.

~ Augustine speaking with his mother, Monica
Confessions (Penguin Classics)
By Saint Augustine
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