When We Gathered
A Night More Lovely Than the Dawn
“I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God…
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.” (T.S. Eliot “East Coker”)
“It is impossible to please God without faith…he rewards those who try to find him.” (Heb. 11.6)
Because of faith we search for God. At the Transfiguration the three apostles heard: “This is my beloved Son.” They saw clothes dazzlingly white; they saw Elijah and Moses. Once. That vision was also for us. We need to live out of a faith that results in a hope for what is unseen. All day every day.
Fr. Rob suggested that maybe we are living in the garden and we don’t realise it. We at least get glimpses of light. The light is the gift of faith when the Spirit comes and we begin to see into another level.
We need these experiences of faith so that we can persevere. We need ongoing, daily shots of sustenance. I believe the most important way we grow in faith is by sitting in contemplative prayer. In silence. (By sitting I mean being in place, the prayer place, and maybe for you it is walking…) For a given period of time.
And if we show up faithfully for a long time we begin to change. We become more like God. We become more focussed on what God is saying to us.
“One dark night,
Fired with love’s urgent longings
–ah, the sheer grace!—
I went out unseen
My house being now all stilled…
On that glad night
In secret, for no one saw me,
Nor did I look at anything
With no other light or guide
Than the One that burned in my heart…
This guided me
More surely than the light of noon
To where he was awaiting me
–him I knew so well—
In a place where no one else appeared.
“In darkness and secure…In darkness and concealment.” (John of the Cross, “The Dark Night”) Gillian told us, in darkness and concealment is where God works on us in secret. Here he purges us of habitual imperfections (not all at once). We don’t know what is happening but his presence leaves an impact. (c.f. The Impact of Godby Iain Matthew).
John tells us that the language God most loves is the silence of love. And he taught us the invaluable lesson, “Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love.”
You may begin to become more detached from things that used to hold fast to you. Now you can hold things lightly.
There are signs that God is at work.
- A certain dryness. You have no pleasure in things that used to please you. Yet your mind is centered on God.
- You have no care for the things of God, yet your soul wants to be alone and quiet without knowing why.
- You can’t meditate—use your imagination to pray. All you can do is wait on God in a loving way.
You feel as if you have no foothold. “Save me O God. I am up to my neck.” God is responding to your surrender. He is helping you let go of control so that more and more He can take the initiative.
These are some of the points Gillian made as she described this dark night of the soul.
Sr. Ceil described some examples of dark nights including hitting an impasse with no place left to go, perhaps a sign that one needs to break through into a bigger version of reality. God is trying to take us to someplace new. And all we can do is wait in hope.