Is it just me, or do all people go through what St. John of the Cross termed “the dark night of the soul?”
This well documented personal disaster can occur when less than happy circumstances stack up all at one time and you collapse under the pressure. We can handle one or two disasters at a time, but occasionally the planets line up in such a way that every dark thought you’ve ever had comes at you with the speed of an 18 wheeler going 100 miles an hour. I think they used to call it a nervous breakdown.
My dark night came March 1 and I hope it never comes back again. Somehow I don’t think it will — unless I return to my favorite pastime of sweeping everything unpleasant under the rug. My cousin Eddie tells me it’s a “Braddock thang.” We are mentally adept at ignoring the 10-ton elephant in the middle of the room until we have no place to sit.
My “dark night” was brought on by many things – putting off things I should have done three years ago, facing the ferocious acceleration of time, and a bad chest cold I chose to ignore until it turned into the flu. (Watching five seasons of “Brothers & Sisters,” a sappy, thinly disguised prime time soap opera on Netflix didn’t help.)
After the “darkness” descended about 3 p.m. yesterday, I rushed to my library (an eight foot long bookcase tucked into a hallway) and grabbed my copy of “The Dark Night of the Soul” penned by St. John, a Carmalite monk, in the 16th century. It’s not an easy read, but the rewards are priceless and equivalent to at least 30 sessions with a shrink. At $3.15 on Amazon, it was the bargain of all bargains.
St. John authored this magnificent literary work as a guide on how to win the war between the soul (your higher self) and the ego (the part of you which should be locked in the basement). .If we follow St. John’s recommendations, the soul wins and the ego will suffer a coronary and be put out of commission for an extended period of time. Or, until you begin sweeping stuff under the rug again. I guess you could call the “Dark Night” the ultimate Spring Cleaning.
In a nutshell, the prescription is to lean into darkness and experience the full consequences of all our failings and imperfections. All this soul-searching leads us back to God and like magic, we stop deflecting the love that is all around us. That mysterious “weather in our heads” clears up and the sun rises in glorious colors.
Today, I’m sweeping up all the messes, but they are going to the curb, NOT under the rug Besides I’m totallty pumped. Tuesday is Senior Day at the Walgreen’s.