(Posted May 28, 2015)
What is there that is deeper and darker than the Dark Night of the Soul?
It was the 16th century mystic John of the Cross, a poet himself, who gave us that term. That dark place, John said, only comes upon us after we have been faithful seekers for a long time. It comes upon swiftly, silently, when suddenly doubts and unsureness empties our lives. The God who had always seemed close to us is suddenly quiet, seemingly unreachable and unfathomable. Usually, it precedes an oncoming shift to a higher consciousness of the Divine and our relationship with the One who we seek.
For us modern people less given to mystical experiences, it may come upon us as the feeling, “If God is so near, why do I feel so all alone?”
This question, the second in a miniseries of such inquiries, will be the focus of this Sunday’s message. The Gospel will reintroduce us to Nicodemus – the member of the Sanhedrin who is so perplexed by his sudden rash of questions about Jesus’ teachings that, in the middle of the night, he has to seek out Jesus and ask him the meaning of what it is to be born anew, and how that is possible “when one has grown old.” Nicodemus and his questions brought him to a new level of faith and commitment after this midnight lesson in theology. He went on to be one of the Temple priests who, when Jesus was captured and brought before them, insisted that Jesus must have his cause heard, rather than to be summarily sent for execution. After the crucifixion, it was Nicodemus along with Joseph of Arimathea who tenderly removed Christ’s body from the cross, and brought anointing oils.
In today’s environment of bad news and challenges to our faith, the Dark Night of the Soul is something many of us encounter but often don’t mention to others. This is not only true for people who have faith but also questions; it is true as well for that nearly 20 percent of the population who identify themselves as “nones – no particular religious affiliation.” The human heart has a place that is empty and echoing with the need for making a connection with meaning in life. This weekend, we’ll explore that dark corner and listen for the whisper of God in this sacred spot.
Blessings --- Pastor Pat Kriss