When things in our lives are most difficult, our contact with spirit may seem lost altogether. When our life grows dark – and it will happen no matter how true our path – it can seem we are completely alone. Yet it is in this darkness that we sometimes find our way to a new closeness with spirit.
The whisper of the spirit inside is always audible – if we take the time to listen – even when we’re experiencing the dark night of the soul. When our days are rough and seemingly impossible, spirit is just as close as our breath, telling us always that we are loved and we are safe. Yet it is very difficult to hear the voice of spirit through the roar of pain, fear, and doubt. At times like this, we can turn to faith to find spirit, and at times like this, we may find a deeper connection to spirit. The darkness may actually be a new door into the light.
The spirit within may not be what we’ve imagined. Spirit is visceral, spirit is personal, and spirit can be frightening. Most of all, spirit is close. Spirit is at the very center of our being. It is the essence of who we are.
Sometimes the distance between our everyday life and our spirit life seems to be counted in miles, even years. But this is an illusion. Our everyday life and our spirit life are one in the same. Our everyday life is our spirit life. Yet often it doesn’t seem that way. We can experience a great distance between ourselves and spirit. While spirit may be a breath away, sometimes that breath is not apparent. We can get trapped by the illusion that spirit is far, far away, and between us and spirit, there is nothing but darkness. There are times when we have to traverse the dark chaos to reach spirit at all.
If we’re not willing to cross the dark abyss, then out spirit life may seem to vanish altogether. “It is precisely because we resist the darkness in ourselves that we miss the depths of the loveliness, beauty, brilliance, creativity, and joy that lie at our core,” said Thomas Moore in Dark Nights of the Soul.
When we are facing darkness, it is most important that we reach into the abyss for light. It is always there when we reach out. “Facing the darkness, admitting the pain, allowing the pain to be pain, is never easy. This is why courage – big-heartedness – is the most essential virtue on the spiritual journey,” Matthew Fox said in his book, Original Blessing. He went on to say that “if we fail to let pain be pain, then pain will haunt us in nightmarish ways. We will become pain’s victims instead of the healers we might become.”
There is no way to escape darkness on our spiritual journey. Darkness is part of life, part of our existence. We just have to make sure we don’t fall to the fear-based temptation to believe that once the darkness settles in that life will always be dark. In the book, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, Matthew Fox said, “Faith takes us to deep places, to the ruptures in our self-confidence and our lives. Do not settle for spiritual comfort all the time. Darkness is divine also.”
When we are willing to cross the abyss, we not only re-engage with spirit, we gain courage. There is great freedom that comes when we are able to sit in our darkness with faith that we are still surrounded by the grace of spirit. In the song, “I Found Out,” John Lennon said, “No one can harm you if you feel your own pain.”