The Dark Night of Denial


Since autumn, I’ve been pretty good at staying on top of my Daily Office discipline, but I’ve fallen woefully off the wagon when it comes to Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer. Here is my attempt to get back on top with a little public journaling.

So, I did my Lectio today on the Gospel from the Daily Office Lectionary:

JOHN 18:15-18, 25-27

Peter and John followed Jesus, as they had for years, but this part of the journey was the most difficult by far. Jesus was asking them to follow him into a place of darkness and cold, a place of suffering and death, a place where their faith would be challenged and (literally) torn to shreds.

This is what St. John of the Cross called “the dark night of the soul.” All traces of divine blessing and consolation disappear. It is a season of emptiness and suffering. So it was for the disciples on the night of Jesus’ arrest, and so it is for Christians today. The Jesus we loved (and thought we knew) is suddenly taken away from us. Like Peter, we find ourselves haunted by terrifying questions.

The temptation in this season is to flee the darkness and warm ourselves around the old familiar fires of certainty. This is the tactic employed by secular skeptics and religious fundamentalists alike. When the mystery becomes too difficult to face, they default to easy answers that can be fully understood. The problem is that any such answer amounts to a denial of our Lord.

Better to remain silent in the face of uncertainty and allow the mystery to remain as it is. Jesus tried to warn us that the journey would lead to this place, but we were not willing (or ready) to listen at that time. Now that we find ourselves here, will we deny the disturbing mystery or live with it long enough for Christ to bring us through the dark night to the morning of faith’s resurrection?


One thought on “The Dark Night of Denial

  1. My EfM (Education for Ministry) group reflected a couple of weeks ago that Jesus’ cry from the cross of “My God, why have you forsaken me?” might have been his experience of humanity at its deepest — *feeling* distant from God even though God is near.

    It’s hard to sit with feelings of forsakenness; it’s hard to sit at all. We are restless unless we are *getting* something — some consolation, some insight, some knowledge, some idea for a blog post — from our silence.

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