Who Turned Out The Lights?

A few years back I delved into the mystical tradition of the Christian religion, and one thing I discovered then was an appreciation for the “dark night of the soul”.  Though many assume that phrase refers to very sad seasons in life, this is actually incorrect.  Rather, it most simply describes a time of disenchantment and disillusionment.   Rather than think of the dark night as a crying widow, imagine it more as the corpse she has bid farewell to.  It is a time when all your regular pleasures turn to ashes in your mouth, and you are left dry and without satisfaction.  This does not apply only to physical pleasures, as one might assume.  Saints have experienced it descending upon their more spiritual sources of happiness: doctrines, spiritual disciplines, prayer.

Sincere believers, when they find themselves in the midst of this fog, often ask “why?”  Of course, the first answer they might consider is “is it because of some sin in my life?” And the answer might be “yes”.  The Bible has no shortage of stories where God withdraws his blessings and peace from his people because of their sin against him.  On the other hand, even if one has a clear conscience, and upon asking God to reveal hidden sins none are immediately forthcoming, a Christian may still find themselves living in this darkness.  The mystics considered why many apparently pious Christians went through this dry period.  One answer, I think deeply profound, was this.  Unlike journeys in the material world, journeys of the spirit can become more difficult when things are more clear.  For we humans have a habit of trying to sabotage our own progress.  We like the safe places we have found for ourselves, and are unwilling to journey to higher peaks if it means traversing difficult terrain.  And so, to liberate us from ourselves, God has to turn out the lights.  In other words, the lights are put out for our benefit.  To do invasive heart surgery, to borrow a more modern image, God has to put us under.

I found this explanation quite helpful. Perhaps others who have wandered in this darkness will think the same.