My Experience with the Dark Night of the Soul

This essay has been brewing for some time. It discusses a very controversial topic —
unorthodox, and ridiculed, often. If such topics bother you or if reading about someone’s belief in
Christ disgusts you, please do not read this. I’ve never been one to gush and preach about faith, but this
is so profound and life changing, it alters the way you think and perceive the material realm. To
preface, 2019 hasn’t been a very good year for myself and my family. This isn’t a pity party, this is just
a statement of fact. (Please spare your sympathy. This is meant to be helpful and informational.) But
these troubling times — to say the least — have provided for a silver lining that may otherwise have not
been attainable. I choose to write this not to boast and sit on my high horse, but in the hopes that it may
be useful and helpful to anyone else experiencing a similar situation. To begin lets examine what the
Dark Night of the Soul is.

The Dark Night of the Soul is a spiritual crisis in the journey toward union with God. The term
was coined initially by St. John of the Cross. He wrote an eight-stanza poem which outlines the soul’s
journey from the distractions and entanglements of the world to the perfect peace and harmony of
union with God. According to the poet, the “dark night of the soul” is synonymous with traveling the
“narrow way” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:13-14. The monk taught that one seeking God will cast
off all attachments to this world and live a life of austerity. Before attaining union with God, however,
the soul must pass through a personal experience of Christ’s passion. This time of testing and agony is
accompanied by confusion, fear, and uncertainty—including doubts of God—but on the other side are
Christ’s glory, serenity, and a mystical union with God. The dark night is not a pleasant experience, but
in the end it allows one to approach nearer to God and His love, the poet calls it a “happy night” and a
“night more lovely than the dawn.” At the end of one’s journey, he concludes, God takes away all
feeling, leaving the traveler senseless to everything except the presence of God Himself.

To put it in another, rather nerdy, way the Dark Night of the Soul is the path of the Jedi, and the
Cave of Evil that Luke Skywalker enters when training with Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back. It has
only what you take with you (yourself and your faith), and you won’t need any physical weapons as
they will be useless against the spiritual temptation. It is the time where you are tried and tempted the
most in your faith. You will find out just how strong your faith truly is during this period. In addition,
once feeling is taken away, there is just you and The Force — God. You really only have two options
presented to you during this period. You either fall on your knees and ask him to stay with you (resist
the dark side and remain in the light), or you stand up, brush yourself off, and walk away rejecting him
(join the dark side). I chose to ask him to stay.

My Dark Night started in April of 2019, after 3 deaths within 6 months. 2 within the same
month. The death of a close person is rough for anyone; multiply that by 3. But in addition, in the midst
of all that, when you finally come to the realization that you’ve lost the two most important and
influential people in your life, the 2 people who have done the most for you and your development and
pulled you out of your shell, the only two people you’ve really felt close to, it takes an extremely high
toll upon you — physically, spiritually, and especially mentally and emotionally. Though, I still do and
always will love them dearly. I’m an extremely solitary person, almost socially inept. I’m quite content
being at home or in nature away from society and the rest of the world. I always have been, and I
probably always will be. I’ve never been one for travel, either. To quote George Harrison, “The farther
one travels, the less one knows.” I’ve stuck to this lyric ever since I first heard that song and understood
what it meant. However, I do enjoy venturing out into society from time to time.

Going up into space and looking at the earth, climbing Mt. Everest and gazing out into the
horizon, and diving to the deepest depths of the oceans all are great and exhilarating ways to realize
how insignificant the petty squabbles of day-to-day life are and how small you are in this universe. But
you don’t have to do those things to realize that. When you look at the divine beauty of nature and the
natural world around you, meditate on the gospel, and let the rest of the world pass you by, you achieve
the same realization. Needless to say, I have no issue with being alone. But I do have an issue with
being lonely, as many, many people around the world do. I’ve never felt so low and lonely as I have this
past year, an emotional ‘Rock Bottom’ if you will. You’re surrounded by people — even loved ones, but
you are completely numb, empty and isolated inside. And this is where the dark night starts. I feel it’s
when you hit a type rock bottom; physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional, that you truly find your
faith. For me it’s the emotional rock bottom that started the process.

For months I was completely depressed. The Dark Night does feel like the typical mental
disorder of Depression. And it may be that some people are mis-diagnosed as just being depressed and
are medicated as such. In fact, I truly believe that, putting the second coming aside, if Jesus were to
return today and continue preaching the gospel as he did 2000 years ago, instead of being labeled a
blasphemous heretic, and crucified, he would be labeled mentally ill and be medicated to the point of
overdose. I think depression is definitely a part of the dark night, but it is a depression that comes and
goes. There are days which I feel like everything is going completely bonkers. In fact I’ve asked myself
many times if today, do I keep going, or is this the day I become a recluse? And there are days with
complete happiness. Sadly, the days of happiness are few and far between. The first time I felt even a
small amount better was when I visited a botanical garden. Naturally, it was being surrounded by nature
that made me feel better. But that soon changed, when I lost my cat. Some people see their pets as their
children, I don’t agree with this. My pet is my friend, my companion. This cat had been with me for 18
years, majority of my life. Needless to say, I lost a beloved friend. Another thing I’ve dealt with and
continue to deal with is that I’ve never felt like I’ve truly fit in anywhere. There is nowhere I belong. I’m
an outsider, the odd man out. The dark night has amplified this, but I think it has also explained it. Be
in this world, but not of it.

After the first 2 months, I asked Jesus to help me. I clung to my faith. It sounds very cliché, but
it works. The point of epiphany is when you come to the realization that it’s all real. The gospel that is.
This didn’t come until sometime after this. This isn’t believing it’s all real, it’s beyond that. I know he’s
real; it’s very profound and difficult to explain and convey. It’s more of a sense of feeling and knowing.
I’ve never seen Jesus with my own eyes, or heard his voice. But I feel, what I believe to be the holy
spirit and his presence. With this feeling, this sense of ease that has continued to come over me, I know
it all to be true. The definition of faith is believing in something you can’t see, beyond the physical.
This is knowing something you can’t see, beyond the physical. It’s a revelation, if you will.

I don’t know if the original writings of the gospel have been lost in translation. I don’t know if
the original writings were concealed and manipulated. I don’t know if the organization has been co-
opted by those who seek to destroy it. There is evidence pointing to the correspondence of these, but
that is irrelevant right now. All I do know is that he is the one. As he said, ‘the truth the way and the
life.’ And that’s all that matters. Jesus DID come down here to teach the way, and sacrifice himself to
keep us all from pain, suffering, and damnation. And with that, you realize that this entire realm, this
world/universe and everything in it; is fake. It’s not real, and it doesn’t matter. This is just a waiting
room and we are all waiting for the real world to start.

With all of the death, and suffering, I’ve grieved more in this last year than in all of my years
prior combined. And I know I will have more grieving to do, especially on this path. We all grieve,
sadly it’s a part of this life. Just like with the path of the Jedi; emotions lead to the dark side. The Jedi
code states: There is no emotion; there is peace. There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no
passion; There is serenity. There is no death; there is only the Force. Emotions cloud your judgment,
especially negative ones such as fear. When you have an emotional attachment to something, you fear
for it. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to
suffering.” Many of our haste and rash decisions are made out of fear. The dark night and Christianity
in general as well as the Jedi code, teach: walk by faith, not sight. Being a follower of Christ is hard. I
hesitate to say it’s not for everyone as he welcomes all; you have to let go of a lot. You have to believe
in things you can’t see or explain, you have to be the best person you can be, among other
requirements. But the reward far outweighs the pain. A life full of peace, prosperity and love, where all
of your dreams and desires come true. It’s completely liberating and comforting to let the world pass
you by and just be, when you know this. No stress or concerns of the world. You just are, and enjoy it.
This is something I continue to learn, not only to just be, but to walk in faith, and not with sight.

I’m not saying I’m super-human and above all of this. I’m still human. I still err. I still yearn, I
still dream, I still long. Such as a nice home surrounded by the forest, preferably in the mountains; to be
left alone from the hustle and bustle, and fast paced, heartless demands of the rest of the world; and
especially for what I want most, what I’ve wanted, more than anything else my whole life and would
give/do almost anything to obtain it. And though I see her every time I close my eyes, I’ve come to
accept the fact that I may never physically see her in this life. So I keep reminding and reassuring
myself that my reward is in the Kingdom of Heaven. What I want in this life isn’t always what God
wants for me in this life. But I have God’s love, and Jesus’ love. And that is the most important love of
all. If that’s God’s will that that’s all I’m able to have in this realm, then that will have to suffice. I’m still
in my shell. And I probably will never fully be out of it. But walking in faith means to be comfortable
knowing that God has it handled. This is an extremely difficult thing to do, one that I’m still working
on. Let go and let God.

One thing I’ve learned from this is that I know now that I am not alone. He is always with me,
as he is always with all of us. Another is: Life is very short. I’ve seen other people whom I wasn’t close
to, pass away. Some fairly young. We all know life is short, but it’s different to actually realize it. I’ve
also come up with a phrase, that may be worthy of being a psalm: “Do not be impatient or angry. If
something is lost, let it be lost for my reward is in the kingdom of heaven.” It gets better, at some point.
You just have to be able to let go. As stated previously, life is too short. Letting go helps to rearrange
your mind and realize what is truly important to you. It’s hard, trust me. There are days where I leave
everything up to him and it usually works out. And there are days where I try to take control of
everything and it usually doesn’t work out so well. It’s a learning process. You have to believe and have
faith in something bigger than yourself. Bigger than day-to-day life — bigger than the constructs of
society. You also learn that life is not about what you want, but about helping others in whatever way
that aligns with your personality/faith/talents/circumstances. For me, I like helping people through
nature via homeopathic medicine, etc; or moral support. But anything that helps others is what counts.
Even if they don’t deserve your help. You don’t do it for them; you do it for yourself. We say this every
time we recite the lord’s prayer — forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
us. But do we do it?

I know I’m still in this dark night. How long does it last? Some people say a few weeks or
months. Some people say a few years. The best answer is: as long as it has to. As long as it takes.
Maybe this is what it means to be born again. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s necessary to experience a dark night of the soul to know God, or to be saved. After all, anyone who truly believes and professes with their mouth that Jesus walked this Earth, taught the gospel, and died for us; is saved. It just helps the people who need it. I needed it. I don’t know why — but I did. This is definitely the path least
traveled. It’s excruciatingly painful for the ego but this is the life I’ve chosen — or rather, it chose me.
Going through a dark night doesn’t necessarily mean you are of the Christian faith. Sometimes it’s just a
spiritual crisis for those who don’t subscribe to an established spirituality. I’m not a super evangelist.
I’m not gonna persecute anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus. Just remember, he’s always there whenever
you’re ready. He was for me.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn:
for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they
which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for
they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the
peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for
righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and
persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be
exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were
before you.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man
give in exchange for his soul?

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Cast your cares on the lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests
known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and
many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Do not fret over doers of evil; do not envy those who do wrong. For they wither quickly like grass and
wilt like tender plants. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the
LORD; trust in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness like the dawn, your
justice like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; fret not when men
prosper in their ways, when they carry out wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and abandon wrath; do
not fret—it can only bring harm. For the evildoers will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will
inherit the land. Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will
not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and delight in abundant prosperity. The wicked scheme
against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them, but the Lord laughs, seeing that their day is coming.
The wicked have drawn the sword and bent the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those
whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.
Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many who are wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the LORD upholds the righteous. The LORD knows the days of the
blameless, and their inheritance will last forever. In the time of evil they will not be ashamed, and in the
days of famine they will be satisfied. But the wicked and enemies of the LORD will perish like the
glory of the fields. They will vanish; like smoke they will fade away. The wicked borrow and do not
repay, but the righteous are gracious and giving. Surely those He blesses will inherit the land, but the
cursed will be destroyed. The steps of a man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.
Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, for the LORD is holding his hand. I once was young and
now am old, yet never have I seen the righteous abandoned or their children begging for bread. They
are ever generous and quick to lend, and their children are a blessing. Turn away from evil and do
good, so that you will abide forever. For the LORD loves justice and will not forsake His saints. They
are preserved forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not falter. Though the wicked lie in wait for the
righteous, and seek to slay them, the LORD will not leave them in their power or let them be
condemned under judgment. Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will raise you up to inherit
the land. When the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, ruthless man flourishing
like a well-rooted native tree, yet he passed away and was no more; though I searched, he could not be
found. Consider the blameless and observe the upright, for a posterity awaits the man of peace. But the
transgressors will all be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off. The salvation of the
righteous is from the LORD; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps and delivers
them; He rescues and saves them from the wicked, because they take refuge in Him.