I have been writing and reading about spiritual teachings for several years and I always love to share what I am reading. There are several books I’m reading now, one is Brene Brown’s new book “Daring Greatly” which is wonderful and the other one is “Dark Nights of the Soul.” I love this quote from the beginning of that book and I find that it so relates to my own life and also Pema Chodron’s work about happiness and acceptance:

Many people think that the point of life is to solve their problems and be happy.  But happiness is usually a fleeting sensation and you never get rid of your problems.  Your purpose in life may be to become more who you are and more engaged with the people and the life around you, to really live your life.  That may sound obivous, yet many people spend their time avoiding life. They are afraid to let it flow through them, and so their vitality gets channeled into ambitions, addictions, and preoccupations that don’t give them anything worth having.  A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living.  It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start.  

Here I want to explore positive contributions of your dark nights, painful thought they may be.  I don’t want to romanticize them or deny their dangers.  I don’t even want to suggest that you can always get through them.  But I do see opportunities to be transformed from within, in ways you could never imagine.  A dark night is like Dante getting sleepy, wandering from his path, mindlessly slipping into a cave.  It is like Odysseus being tossed by stormy waves and Tristan adrift without an oar.  You don’t choose a dark night for yourself. It is given to you. Your job is to get close to it and sift it for its gold.”

Thomas Moore

I didn’t choose my “dark night” three years ago when everything I believed were the most important parts of my life left me, my family, my home, my job.  Those things defined me for many years and suddenly I had to “re-define” myself – during my dark nights.  It was the greatest gift, the time I spent and continue to spend, sifting for the gold. 

2 Thoughts on “Dark Nights of the Soul

  1. I’m putting a life together after the death of my husband four years ago and have all the spiritual resources and practices any woman could need. I’m finding my way—-even my dreams tell me so—-but I still get thrown to the ground, most recently by close involvement with the death of a friend. I want to keep myself upright, care for my body, and practice, practice, practice keeping the perspective of curiosity about what will happen next. Thanks for reminding me of the value of time in the underworld. Your post is much better than a chocolate-fueled crying jag—-and I won’t have a hangover.
    Best, Elaine

  2. Elaine, I just heard about an organization called “Share the Care.”

    It sounds like such a brilliant idea: gather together a team of people to help someone who has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, so that the responsibilities don’t fall on just a few people. And also so that the patient never has to ask for help.

    It’s amazing how many resources there are that we don’t know about. Friends In Deed got me through my grief and it’s great that there are groups out there to help us as we negotiate our Dark Nights.

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