From the diary of a darkened soul:
The time is passing by and you haven’t done a thing worth remembering, for goodness’ sake….
My faith is in a pit. The things I once believed to be true turn out to be illusion—I was deceived by the voice which I wanted to be true but which was really just a product of my crazy imagination. What a loon. I’m always thinking things will work out so pretty and nice, but the truth is that things fall apart. They fall apart and I don’t know what to do. One can keep having faith and trusting in the face of all these demons, but isn’t that an irrational thing to do—irresponsible, even? How can it be that the soul who desires goodness so strongly, with every fiber of her being, can be led so far astray? The disappointment is too hard for this kind of soul to bear.
I want to talk to God and turn to Him for help, but how can I do that if I don’t trust Him anymore? I feel helpless in the absence of recourse to a Higher Power whom I know is all-good. What’s the matter with my mind? Playing tricks on me to lead me into a darkness I can’t escape—where’s the good in that? One shouldn’t be on the outs with oneself. One shouldn’t be on the outs with God. But how is it possible to keep believing in Someone who seems—I’m sorry to say it—abusive of your innocent trust and simple pleas?
I can’t articulate what I want to say. The emotions are hard to translate into words. But the thing that bothers me most is simply the fact that, for all the years I’ve spent loving Someone, it’s possible that He doesn’t even exist, that all this love was misplaced, misused, misspent. Why is the world unjust? Why do people deceive? How can one trust when her trust leads to heartache and fear and a perpetual sense of doubt? It’s hard for the idealists to live in this world, for reality often disappoints the dreams they’ve played out in their minds. So what if reality is more real? It’s also darker, rougher, harder to bear. What’s the point of pretending to like something that, in fact, you don’t happen to like at all?
Once upon a time, a little bird fell in love with a man. This may strike you as unusual because you didn’t think that birds had hearts capable of love. But they do, they most certainly do! A bird can love twice as powerfully as the average human who spends most of his time frittering away at the computer or office desk. Birds are capable of flight, you see, and that puts everything in perspective in a way that most humans don’t take the time to understand.
In the morning, when you first begin to remember that there’s a world waiting for you to show up in, it’s important to ask God a simple question: What can I do today to bring more light into the lives of the people I meet? I know that this can be a hard question to ask when you yourself are feeling steeped in darkness, wrapped around with a blanket of pure and simple despair. How can your life bring light to anyone else when your candle seems altogether snuffed out, your life-bulb altogether dimmed? …
Here’s the answer to the question that has been plaguing you all this time:
Don’t be afraid to accept the mystery of a love that desires more for you than you could even desire for yourself.
I know. It seems facile, simple, pat. I know it’s hard to believe when the darkness keeps creeping in and putting a damper on your sense of hope, your sense of peace.
I know it’s not easy to accept a belief in goodness when the goodness in your life seems to have disappeared, vanished into the space of a terrible unknown.
One might even ask: How can a reasonable soul believe what the mind suggests, with all the best evidence, to be untrue? Isn’t it a betrayal of logic, an act of slander to one’s integrity, to maintain faith in the things the senses reveal to be unreal, unfounded, unamenable to the truth?
But, wait. There’s more to be said in the stillness of the night. When you quiet your mind, dismissing the voices that echo in the cavern of thought, you begin to intuit the presence of some other force—some kind of energy that keeps you alert and watchful even at the midnight hour.
in the caress of the night
I call to You.
my heart is full to bursting
at the sound of Your name.
my tongue is tied up in praises
of Your impossible grace.
When the soul has lost her way
in pursuit of wild things,
You summon her home
in tones as sweet as honey,
as soft as rain
And rock her to sleep
again and again.
Sometime in the spring, I recorded this short video of an old poem I’d written called “Revelation.” Text below. (Also here.)
A swallow landed at the landlord’s golden gate:
Svelte-seeming swallow, small begotten king,
A thing to glory in so many miniatures of spring
Sprung all to blooming in bedappling beds,
Heads of the hyacinth, so much overfed, looked longing
On high to the highriding Sun of whom they were sons;
They were blushing the flush of a mother,
They were hushing to hear the swallow their Brother!
Their Brother winged wide to the goldenwrought gate
Forespeaking the sounds of a highmountain place:
The trees were bowing their leaves to the song!
The swallow was sweeping the stone hearts along!
The swallow, oh swallow! – inviolable grace! –
Stood steady straight, straight steady stood, standing at the gate.
A few words of encouragement for a darkened soul:
The light will shine again and soon. Don’t despair because things are looking unclear. There is always a murky river to wade through before you reach the sea. It’s all right to have your doubts, but it’s too soon to throw away your whole framework of life just because a couple of things don’t seem to fit. The world is a mysterious place. Sometimes the answers find us long after we have started to seek them out; the waiting is hard, but only the lighthearted will find their rest in this life—so lighten your heart, unburden your soul, and leave the rest to God.
Discovered this song recently and couldn’t stop listening to it!
The stars come out each night to remind us of greater things. If we pause our daily toils and gaze at the sky, counting the stars we see, we briefly leave our regular sphere of existence and reach out to a place and a phenomenon that are beyond our grasp.
When we stop to consider the stillness of the night—in the country, especially, but also in the city—we remember, for a moment, some ancient connection that speaks to our souls and brings to life the flicker of order that pervades the universe and encircles us all in a great net of intricacy and quiet.
For those of us who desire a sense of meaning in our lives but fail to latch onto anything substantial, fail to be fed with something that satisfies—it is useful to send up our prayers, our hopes, our worries, and our doubts to the nighttime sky, reassured that our troubles will not be too big for something so vast and so deep.
For only when we believe that there is a vessel greater than ourselves—capable of holding all the cares and duties of life without bursting at the seams—can we relax our grip on life (which can sometimes become a chokehold) and lose a bit of ourselves to a way that is grander, more meaningful, more complete.
The burning of soul that one sometimes feels in the midst of prayer or praising God can represent the human desire for union with Someone greater, bigger, more full of love.
Often, it strikes me that I know so little as to be considered dumb in the life of prayer—for what was once a certainty dissolves into doubt and the order of importance of questions pursued—Who am I? Who is God? Does life have a purpose we’re meant to find?—becomes obscure.
The truth is, when it comes to knowing how to speak about something ineffable—the words are hard to acquire. It would be better, I think, to be still, to keep the mouth from opening at all—except that this is an impossible thing to ask, given how much the mind wants to discuss that which consumes it.
In the winter of one’s life—which is to say, when one has fallen into a period of coldness and doubt, and when the causes for being happy are hard to come by—it becomes important to remember what came before, in the times when life was bright, when the sun was warm on your face. For one’s job in such seasons is to overcome the sense of being lost, to eschew the belief in one’s inability to move or do or think—and recover, by means of recalling the good, an uncanny sense of purpose that comes to those who open their minds and hearts to possibilities of life and love.
In the end, what gives us strength is the simple remembrance of Love. If we can find the source of this Love inside ourselves—tucked in the corners of our souls—we have all we need to step into the light, prepared to fail sometimes, but also convinced of our ability to stand up again, unstirred from our purpose, which is, today and tomorrow and the day after that, to burn our lamps as brightly as we can and set the world aflame with a life devoted to beauty and truth and all that is good.