Recently I have been rereading Gerald May’s very helpful book entitled, “The Dark Night of the Soul.” It is about the spirituality of St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. I must admit that over 20 years ago, when I first encountered the concept of the “dark night” I was confused and uncertain as to the biblical basis for the explanation of the dark night. But I soon came to the awareness, with the help of a spiritual friend, that I was indeed experiencing to dark night. Since those early encounters, I have experienced the dark night on a rather regular basis. So looking back in hindsight, I can give testimony to the validity and spiritual benefit of the dark night for myself as a young man.
The reason for sharing my story is to reflect on a comment on one of May’s insights.” He states that for John of the cross, God uses the dark night “to darken our awareness in order to keep us safe….the night is dark for our protection.” When we cry out for God’s help to live as followers of Jesus, he takes us at our word. He will lead us where we do not want to go.” Why? May tells us why. “We cannot liberate ourselves; our defenses and resistences will not permit it, and we can hurt ourselves in the attempt. To guide us toward the love that we most desire, we must be taken where we could not and would not go on our own. And lest we sabotage the journey, we must not know where we are going.”
Trust me, men. In the dark night, God is setting us free from all our attachments and diseased desires, so that we might experience his love and respond to the deeper longings that God has put in our heart. This becomes the experience of a wildman; getting in touch with his true passions and desires. God wants to bring about a transformation in our souls, that leads to freedom for desire, not a freedom from desire. In other words, God does not want us to become less of a man, but more of a man, being able to express more fully the deepest range of emotions and desires. The life that God has for us in Jesus is one of liberation not suppression. Too many men think of a heart-felt relationship with God means suppression of our manliness. NO. It is the liberation of our manliness. But it is done on God’s terms, because we will always mess up the process
So again as it says in AA, we have to let go and let God. When it comes to our desires and emotions we must confess that our life is unmanageable. We can’t get bring order to our inner life. God does this in the dark night. We have to let go and let the work of God happen on his terms and in his timing. We have to learn to trust the process. Trusting the process is the experience of the dark night. Trust me men, it feels like a dark night when all your familiar spiritual props are taken away. Think again of Abraham and his walk of faith. “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When He left he had no idea where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8 – The Message).
I will be saying more about the dark night in later blogs. I have referred to the dark night because I think of the experience as a key component in the development of a wildman. As I have said in previous post, when a man comes to the threshold and as asked to go into the tunnel, trusting only in the grace and mercy of God, he has a choice. Either he goes ahead in faith, or he turns back to what is familiar and safe. He then forfeits opportunity to become a wildman. I pray that God will raise up a whole new generation of wildmen who will be the salt the light in this day.