Living In The Dark Night Of The Soul

One of my favorite movies of 2011 was Moneyball. In the movie, Brad Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, is the general manager of the Oakland A’s. Beane runs a small market team with a small payroll. In the beginning of the movie, Billy meets with his owner after losing three of his best players. In that meeting, Billy asks for more money and the owner replies, “Billy, I need you to be okay with not spending money that I don’t have.”

Over the past few months, I have been in and out of what St. John of the Cross called a “dark night of the soul.” And, while this time has not been filled with suffering, it bas been painful (suffering is pain avoided). While I have had moments when I have blamed others for the pain going on inside of me, or entertained obsessive thoughts, the real pain has been a dying of the self. While most people describe a dark night of the soul as a painful period of life, or an absence of life, I have come to know it as something altogether different. I have come to understand it as psychiatrist Gerald May describes it, “The darkness of the night implies nothing sinister, only that the liberation takes place in hidden ways, beneath our knowledge and beyond our conscious control.” When I came back to this book, in the midst of this trial, I had a moment like Billy Beane’s. I felt like God has telling me, “Mike, I need you to be okay with not knowing things that you don’t need to know. I need you to have faith.”

I think that this is the biggest struggle in the spiritual journey… giving up our control mechanisms. To know that we don’t need to be in control. To know that we don’t need to know. To be okay with not being okay. To accept everything that is, even if it doesn’t align itself with my preferred way of seeing (a source of disappointment to idealists like me). This is why Richard Rohr says that the spiritual journey is becoming a master in the art of letting go.

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2 thoughts on “Living In The Dark Night Of The Soul

  1. Doug Messer says:

    Excellent piece Mike…There is such a deep, difficult, wonderful hope underneath the letting go, particularly in the midst of the dark nights of our own soul’s/selve’s making…

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