From You I hide me
How much will it hurt this time
To make me more me?
In the deep darkness
My name is called by Abba.
I’m again chosen.
The consuming night
In which souls seem to get stuck
He comes with new life.
In the Holy Darkness
Seeds crack their shells and emerge
Waiting is very hard.
Hidden by the night
Plowed under by unbelief
I yearn for the light.
My soul waits for you
You grab my hand and we run
Into Your freedom.
I just got back from the third session, of a six session, 2 year-long retreat. During the past few months and days, we read and talked about “The Dark Night of the Soul.” The “Dark Night” is a time in life when God seems very silent and far away, when usual spiritual practices hold no comfort, and there is an exceedingly dry feeling in the spiritual part of us. A great sense of loss comes, as there seems to be something missing inside. However, the rest of life seems to go on pretty much the same. In that way, a “Dark Night of the Soul” is different from depression. During depression, life does not go on; it is slowly dragged out of us only by the greatest of efforts. All of life seems too much trouble, not just dryness or loss in our spiritual life.
It can be terrifying when we realize that no personal power, action or thought can satisfy our longings for God. Every spiritual discipline (practice) is tried in order to bring the comfort level of intimacy with God back to where it last was. This time is, however, a necessary part of the deepening of a spiritual life. It is there, in the dessert, beyond our sight, that God does his greatest work. Often, God’s work or movement in our lives does not make sense or even realized until after the Dark Night is over. Only at the dawn can we look back at that time in our lives when we can finally say, “Oh that is what was going on." The “Dark Night” can go on for a short or long time, months or years. I have often wondered if God couldn’t choose an easier way to move us closer to Him…..
During this retreat time, we are “being trained” to become spiritual directors (aka spiritual friend, spiritual mentor.) In this discipline, we help others find and walk their spiritual path, see God in their lives, and find their growing edges. In other words, draw closer to God in a myriad of ways. Discerning that I was to be a helper in this way was a long time coming. I have been in spiritual direction for about 8 years. Having someone help me see God move in my life has been extremely helpful. I knew what a blessing it had/has been for me. But could I do the same, a good enough job, or would I mess it up royally? Should I be not just encouraged, but allowed, to work with other seekers? EEK! What I need to remember is that God is really the spiritual director here, I am just a conduit for Him.
I began this retreat last October not knowing if God had “called” me to be a spiritual director or if it was just my own wanting-to-be-one. I think I have my answer, at least in part. We have had to “find” someone we could “practice” on. This was a little daunting for me as most of the attendees are ministers, thus having a ready supply of people with spiritual lives. And, even though it is overseen by people with training and long experience in this area, who would want me to “mess around” in their spiritual life? So I prayed a lot about this dilemma. God surprised me with someone in a very timely manner. My directee and I are off to a good start, or so I am assured. I get to grow in this process too. :)
Part of this training is that we continue to see our own spiritual director. I had someone in Palestine, but have a new one here in Fort Worth. She can often see what is going on in my spiritual life better than I can. When I see her, her first question is usually is something along the line as, “how is it between you and God?” or “how is your soul today?” There is not always a clear cut answer…….