Did you know that there are at least 10 beautiful flowers that only bloom at night? One of those is the Red Flare tropical water lily. I continue to be amazed and enamored by God’s creation. We can learn so much through nature. I was particularly struck by the oddity of flowers blooming at night. My innate instinct was to believe the Sun and daylight produce the most vibrant of colors, in most every living thing. Ah, but therein lies the dichotomy.
Is it possible that in the darkest moments, the greatest beauty can emerge? I’ve often thought about the refiners’ fire written about in the Bible. Silver is heated at immense temperatures to burn off all the impurities. But with that heat comes light, not darkness. Then again, it’s darkest right before the light.
The poem of St. John of the Cross, in 8 stanzas of 5 lines each, narrates the journey of the soul to mystical union with God. The journey is called in part because darkness represents the fact that the destination, God, is unknowable. Much the same may be said about our darkest moments in this life. They are simply unknowable. At least temporarily. Until brought into the light.
In Gerald May’s book, The Dark Night of the Soul, in his chapter entitled We Are Love, here’s how he sees it. Paraphrasing Teresa of Ávila.
“Although we are all born with a fundamental desire for God and the fullness of love, most of us don’t know it. The true nature of the desire remains unconscious, often for a very long time. As Teresa says, we simply don’t know who we are. It’s different for each person of course, but most of us begin with what seem like the very simple desires to experience pleasure and avoid pain. This alone can provide plenty of motivations for a rich experience of life, and we generally remain occupied with seeking happiness, gratification, and success, completely unaware of our deeper, divine motivations.”
Often in darkness something amazingly beautiful begins happening. We walk the journey of descent before we can enjoy the counterpart of ascent from the ashes of our brokenness.
God desires union with each of us. Oneness. Intimate fellowship. That may require darkness to settle into our lives. You could call it refinement or simply the “Dark Night of the Soul”. Embracing it is the key to healing and healing is the key to intimacy with God. Knowing that in the darkest times of our lives, when sin and the enemy of light seem to be winning, victory and freedom await us – just beyond the darkness.
And that’s the memo.
By Steve Adams in an excerpt from 90 Days on the Inside