Monday, October 6, 2014

Is the dark night of the soul without hope?

As we have been exploring some of the darker aspects of the writer’s journey, we have used the term, “dark night of the soul,” without really defining it. Perhaps that is because the phrase carries enough power with just its own words that it is both mysterious, satisfying, and self-explanatory to many.

However, the phrase refers not just to a condition, but to a stage in a progression. Though it is shadowy, it carries in itself the hope of redemption from itself.

Most people associate it with the 16th-century mystic St. John of the Cross, who wrote an elaborate poem on the subject.

Surprisingly, it is a journey toward, not away from, God. People nonetheless perceive it as a crisis, sometimes of catastrophic spiritual proportions. It’s characterized by an acknowledgement of what feels like hopelessness up against the backdrop of often-elusive faith.

What a paradox!  The sense that there is no door of escape in a house whose very foundation, timbers and roof are the bulwarks of a faith just beyond your soul’s fingertip’s yearning and reach.

How many people have undergone this wrenching experience? Only God knows. But we do know of those who have written about it. For C. S. Lewis, it felt like a door, slammed shut in his face, locked and bolted against him, specifically him.

I think of it as the realization one day that your love letters no longer have a destination. Or that all the chickens of one’s fears have come home to roost. 

The hope? I find my hope in 


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that I read this on the very day that I plan to write a piece on my past struggles with depression for a friend's blog. I've faced that dark night often in my life. But, you're right, it's a night with hope of sunrise.

I'm glad I'm not alone. This morning I found my hope in this community. This group is a gift. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I find it so comforting to see that "great" people of the past have struggled in ways that I have.

I wonder, since God says that He tries and disciplines people as a part of training His children (Hebrews 12)-- might we dare to conclude that the dark night of the soul is a sign of God's favor to a writer?

Patti Hill said...

I'll go with that, Anonymous.