Will you abandon me forever

"Will you abandon me forever, and
leave me comfortless in my distress?
Where is your steadfast Love that
made my soul to sing?
Are your promises empty,
that I feel so alone?"

The Power of your Love seems
too much for us;
Your Light unveils the secrets
hidden in our heart;
Can You wonder that we tremble?

Yet, You stand beside us as we walk
through our fears to
the path of wholeness and love,
though our footsteps are unsure.

~ excerpt from Psalm 77 in PSALMS FOR PRAYING, Nan Merrill

The spiritual function of fierce terrain

The spiritual function of fierce terrain (in the apophatic tradition) is to bring us to the end of ourselves, to the abandonment of language and the relinquishment of ego. A vast expanse of jagged stone, desert sand, and towering thunderheads has a way of challenging all the mental constructs in which we are tempted to take comfort and pride, thinking we have captured the divine. The things that ignore us save us in the end.


Sun at midnight

The ancient mystery of the "sun at midnight," symbolizes the spiritual light that lies hidden within the dark. The Celts knew that light emerges out of darkness and so their days began at dusk, as if the sun was seeded in the black earth of night.

~ "Tir na Sorcha" by Mara Freeman in Parabola, May 2001

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

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

~ 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

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
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