Daily Riches: When the Darkness Descends (Barbara Brown Taylor and Gerald May)

“John’s answer [John of the Cross] is not simple, but in the simplest possible terms, he says that the dark night is God’s best gift to you, intended for your liberation. It is about freeing you from your ideas about God, your fears about God, your attachment to all the benefits you have been promised for believing in God, your devotion to the spiritual practices that are supposed to make you feel closer to God, your dedication to doing and believing all the right things about God, your positive and negative evaluations of yourself as a believer in God, your tactics for manipulating God, and your sure cures for doubting God. All of these are substitutes for God, John says. They all get in God’s way. The late Gerald May, who wrote his own book about John, called them addictions. In many cases, he said, we should give thanks for them, because it is our addiction to some God substitute or another that finally brings us to our knees, by helping us to realize how far we have strayed from our heart’s true desire.  …Those who have come through dark nights of their own, not just once but over and over again, often cannot find the words to say why they would not trade those nights for anything. ‘Yes, they were nights of great loss. Yes, the soul suffered from fearful subtraction. Yes, a great emptiness opened up where I had stored all my spiritual treasures, and yet.’ And yet what? ‘And yet what remained when everything else was gone was more real than anything I could have imagined. I was no longer apart from what I sought; I was part of it, or in it. I’m sorry I can’t say it any better than that, There was no place else I wanted to be.’” Barbara Brown Taylor

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God
shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator
in doing what is right.”
1 Peter 4:19

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you see pain, loss and confusion as experiences God uses to make you more mature, loving, wise?
  • Is it possible that in your life, your family, your nation–God is taking away idols, false assumptions, the sense of control–so that some profound “emptiness” can open up for you and others?
  • The Biblical idea that one must go down to go up (downward mobility) is commonplace. As you read these words, do you feel like you’re “going down” (perhaps “for the count”)? Can you trust God in that now, even though you’re hurting and confused?

Abba, meet me in my pain. Shape me. Better me.

For more: Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: I Hit the Bottom and Escape (Nicholas of Cusa, Scott Cairns and Teresa of Avila)

Beyond all knowing and unknowing, disregarding the pain, confusion and doubt, I cast myself into the Great Darkness, sinking down through its waters into the depths of the very depths. In that place answers, explanations and expectations–having indeed become irrelevant, irreverent and without usefulness, have ceased to exist. And I exist without them–resting, sinking, abiding in that Darkness. And beside me, abides the Unseen One. And in the presence of that One, I nearly cease to be. I enter a death barely short of death, and a well of life otherwise out of reach. Beyond the reach of words, with nothing to choose but stillness, with no support of any kind–save the invisible, unsensed loving arms of the Eternal One, I come to rest on the bottom. And whereas I would have expected my destruction and death, I instead find new breath, new space and new hope. O God, who is beyond and above all things, who draws near in mystery and confusion and in the coincidence of opposites–cradle me, renew me, deliver me.

“Hence I observe how needful it is for me to enter into the darkness, and to admit the coincidence of opposites, beyond all the grasp of reason, and there to seek the truth where impossibility meeteth me. …And the more that dark impossibility is recognised as dark and impossible, the more truly doth His Necessity shine forth, and is more unveiledly present and draweth nigh.” Nicholas of Cusa

“O Lover embracing all unlovable, O Teacher
Tether binding us together, and binding, yea
and tenderly, Your Person  to ourselves,
Being both beyond our ken, and kindred, One
whose dire energies invest such clay as ours
with patient animation, O Secret One secreting
life anew into our every tissue moribund,
afresh unto our stale and stalling craft,
grant in this obscurity a little light.”
Scott Cairns

“The people remained at a distance,
while Moses approached the thick darkness
where God was.”
Exodus 20:18-21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you experience God who is “far distant” and “most near?”
  • Can you go to that place beyond answers, explanations and expectations?
  • Do you have a way to simply be with God, where God can cradle you, deliver you and renew you?

“O LORD, Here in the gathering darkness I feel able to withstand the whole world, should it turn against me. For if I have you, God, I want for nothing. You alone suffice.” Teresa of Avila

For more: Idiot Psalms by Scott Cairns

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Trust the Fruitive Darkness (Leonard Sweet and John Donne)

“Churches are best for Prayer, that have least light:
To see God only, I goe out of sight:
And to scape stormy dayes,
I chuse An everlasting night.”
John Donne
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“The first step to seeing is knowing that you’re in the dark. If you don’t know you’re in the dark, then you need to turn on the dark. To turn on the dark is a metaphor for keeping an open mind, for resisting easy assumptions and automatic defaults in judgment, all of which I call light pollution. Less is more. Sensory deprivation is a blessing to those who need less distraction. Light can pollute dark, just as the dark can pollute the light. …In order to see the stars, it must be dark enough to see them. … [but] The brightest stars in the sky no longer come from the Milky Way Galaxy, but the night glow from our biggest cities. It’s called ‘sky glow’—light reflected off moisture and dust in the air. …In some Eastern cities like Seoul, South Korea, at night all the buildings ‘go dark.’ No matter how high the apartment complex or skyscraper, it is dark, enabling anyone awake to see the stars. But for most of the world, sky glow now outshines the moon for nearly half of each month. The biological effects of night pollution are only now being appreciated. Ninety miles from Las Vegas, the neon lights are lighting up Death Valley National Park. Many of the night creatures are dying because of light pollution. Certain nocturnal species and ecosystems require a nightly dose of darkness—for reproduction (snakes), for predation (bats), for food intake (zooplankton feed on algae in the dark), for growth and survival. Without dark they face extinction. …Darkness is the womb in which everything exists. To trust the dark is to trust those deep, underground forces—forces of the earth, the ocean, the genes—that would bring to life the seed that is your soul. God planted deep into the ground of your being the seeds of a one-of-a-kind soul. To grow our souls into the unique creation God intends us to be, we must trust the birthing that is going on inside and around us. We must trust the ‘fruitive darkness.’” Leonard Sweet

“And I will give thee
the treasures of darkness”
Isaiah 45:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you know you’re in the dark?
  • Are you able to trust the “fruitive darkness” at work in our world and your life?
  • How specifically would you do that?

Abba, help me discover the treasures of darkness.

For More: Nudge by Leonard Sweet

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thank you for reading and sharing my blog!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)