A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.
~ Michael Bernard Beckwith
When reading the colorful brochure advertising the joys of spiritual life, the dark night of the soul rarely makes the cover. In fact, if it’s mentioned at all, you’ll find it in the fine print after you’ve already signed the contract. But what is the dark night of the soul?
The phrase came from a poem written by the Roman Catholic mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century. It refers to the time in spiritual practice when things become desolate and old identities and ways of being are dying. When one goes to meditate or pray there is a feeling of disconnection or separation from Spirit; there may be a profound sense of isolation and loneliness.
The dark night can be triggered by outside events or internal circumstances, but what is taking place is the melt down of the internal landscape. All the structures that have held the ego in place seem to collapse leaving the spiritual practitioner in the midst of spiritual crisis.
At this point in practice it becomes difficult to sit with the emptiness one may feel inside, but it’s a crucial stage to weather on the path. This stage signals our movement toward spiritual maturity. This is the point at which the ego is being sacrificed, or made sacred. It is a time of waiting and purification. It is a time to prepare for the birthing of the true self.
On the other side of the dark night, freedom awaits you. Profound love is seeking expression through you. Open your heart, embrace the darkness and allow what is false to fall away. The truth of who you are can’t be outlined on any brochure. The gift of the perilous journey is a return to your Oneness in God.
I embrace the darkness knowing I am giving birth to my true self. I am more than this. I am the beloved of God. And so it is. Amen.