Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Preacher's Dark Night of the Soul

Came across this wonderful account of someone's faith journey. Please go read it all. My favorite bit comes after the writer's experience of unanswered prayers as a hospital chaplain which caused him to deeply question his faith.

It’s funny, when your faith finally caves, it goes all at once. You realize you were just a shell held together with hackneyed rituals and desperate hopes. You are not strong. You do not have answers.

St. John of the Cross calls it "The Dark Night of the Soul." He says those seeking God will walk the paths of others but eventually those paths will end and there will be no path. They will be left with “Nada, Nada, Nada.” Nothing, Nothing, Nothing.

It broke my heart. I grieved in joint and marrow. My reptilian brain cried. I was sad all the way to the bottom.

I received an email from someone puzzled about the grief I experienced when I gave up on God. This person felt liberated when she left Christianity.

I understand how some would feel that way. Many of you only know Christianity from bad books, TV preachers, and the people who watch them. If that were all I knew of Christianity I would celebrate my liberation from it all the days of my life.

But I was exposed early to the real stuff - Top Shelf Christianity - Deep and Old Christianity. This kind is practiced by people who work until they stink and take life in great draughts. Their hands are as rough as their hides, and they DO their faith in secret, hiding their good works in obedience to Christ. They know how to love and be loved in return. Their laughter is loud and has its roots in joy.

These Christians don’t want your money and they don’t advertise. You will only find them if you MUST find them. These are the ones who took me to Mexico as a boy and showed me pain and joy. They hid nothing from me.

Eventually, he makes his way out:

....we think having faith means being convinced God exists in the same way we are convinced a chair exists. People who cannot be completely convinced of God’s existence think faith is impossible for them.

Not so. People who doubt can have great faith because faith is something you do, not something you think. In fact, the greater your doubt the more heroic your faith.

I learned that it doesn’t matter in the least that I be convinced of God’s existence. Whether or not God exists is none of my business, really. What do I know of existence? I don’t even know how the VCR works.

What does matter is whether or not I am faithful. I think faithful is a hell of a good word. It still has some of its original shine. It still calls us to action.

Go read it. Now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Christ is risen!

Thank you for this link. I found it very helpful.