I like the greeting St John of the Cross, a 16th century saint, used in writing letters of spiritual counsel – “Jesus be with your soul.” It’s a great reminder for men. St John is know mostly for his description of the “Dark Night of the Soul.” Gerald May maintains that, “The heart of the dark night is that of a love affair between God and the human soul, in which God takes the initiative and we respond.” God is at work in the dark times. Men, there are going to be times when it seems like “the lights have gone out.” This is normal. The ultimate expression of the dark night is Jesus’ experience of being forsaken by his Father, as he cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Matt 27:4). Let the darkness lead you to a greater trust in Jesus, who is in your soul.
Jesus, the light, remains in you, beyond the darkness. David prayed, “Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is a light to you” (Ps 139: 12). John reminds us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). At the deepest center of our being Jesus resides. St. John uses phrases such as, “the intimate substance of the depths of the soul,” and “the infinite center,” to convey the reality of intimacy at the center. Jesus asleep on a pillow (Mark 4:38) while the disciples fear they are drowning, helps us grasp the truth that in the darkest times we can rest in the peace of the Lord. Remember, no matter what you are going through, Jesus is present at the center.
The greeting is a reminder of the Lord’s abiding presence in our souls. The default perception for many men is that Christ is on the outside, at the circumference of life, someone to be observed and thought about, rather than known intimately at the center. Paul reminds us, “Do you not realize that Christ is in you?” ( II Cor. 13:5) The Holy Spirit makes Jesus’ presence real. “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us. He has given us of his Spirit” (I John 4:13). Paul prays in this regard for us, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith” (Eph 3:16-17). Don’t try to figure it out. Learn to live the mystery, “……this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
So remember Jesus in your soul, beyond your shame, fear, anger and guilt. I close with a quote from Thomas Merton, which I could not grasp for sometime. Now I can testify to the truth of what he is saying. “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.” Men, I implore you not to run from the life of your soul. I was on the run for many years. Jesus meets you in the realities of your life at the center, not at the edges . In the good, bad and ugly, Jesus remains as the light, not out there but within. Allow yourself to receive the healing Word of God.