Saturday, October 12

The dark night of the soul

There's a phrase that has often appeared in print:  “the dark night of the soul.”  It refers to periods of doubt and defeatism, always by a "good," spiritual protagonist.  One of my favorite blogs looked at the term, and the result was pretty poetic.

He'd gotten an email from a U.S. doctor just back from a year-long "medical mission" in Calcutta.  The doctor related the story of a woman who had been found on the floor of the train station in that city.  No one would take her in, until finally she was brought to the clinic where the doctor was volunteering.

An examination showed the woman had tried to commit suicide by drinking kerosene, and the doctor  described his efforts to save her with the crude materials available. He did everything he knew, but then had to leave to catch his flight back to the U.S.

Unfortunately, said the doctor, the woman died 4 days later.  He concluded "I guess all we can do is fight the good fight and leave the rest to God.”

The story raises the question: Is it worth continuing to struggle when things are hopeless?  My blogger friend summarizes,
Was it useless? How we answer the question of whether it is worthwhile to try the apparently futile and hopeless defines us. We moderns rarely face the problem squarely because it’s hard to accept that often there are no happy endings, at least in the way we understand such things. So either we contrive — for the sake of our own sanity — to hide the rough patches or deny that we stand in a terrifying place. A universe where, as Raymond Chandler observed, poisoned cats die behind billboards; where hawks swoop down and snatch up bunnies, and a woman too poor even to poison herself properly dies in Calcutta without anyone even remembering her name.


It’s too hard a question for most of us, and we can be excused for ducking behind the movie seat when the monster shows up. But some are prepared to stare reality full in the face, with neither the consolations of denial nor commonplaces to hide behind.  They continue to act in the belief that it will all make sense. Some continue despite never being sure if they will ever come out the other side--or even if there is another side. It's a kind of a spiritual heroism, and that metaphor is a illuminating one.
If faith has an operational meaning it is not far different from a determination to go on.
This seems resonate with a certain type of American.  One of his commenters noted
The Left seeks to turn faith in God into faith in government--which they, conveniently, control: "Don't struggle; we'll handle it and tell you what to do." The muslims throw the self away in a consuming insanity of destruction and death.

Christians carry on with life in the face of doom.
I certainly don't believe carrying on in the face of doom is unique to Christians, and I don't know if the U.S. is doomed, but after considering the numerous unlawful acts of the tyrant--the man of the carefully-sealed records--who occupies the oval office, and his wholehearted, unswerving support by the top Democrat leaders in congress, the "long dark night of the soul" seems an appropriate metaphor.

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