Dark Night of the Soul (1) – Mirabai Starr


[2.5 minute read]
For everyone
[see more about Starr in the resource index]

“…the darkness is nothing but unutterable radiance… you are ready… to be annihilated in love.”

Dark night of the soul, excerpts from Mirabai Starr’s Introduction (Starr is also the translator and has no denominational affiliation) to this mystical work by Saint John of the Cross.


Say when you were very young the veil lifted just enough for you to glimpse the underlying Real behind it and then dropped again. Maybe it never recurred, but you could not forget. And this discovery became the prime mover of the rest of your life, in ways you may not have even noticed. (174)

Your attention to liturgy is so pointed that you become sacred language.

Say these practices fill your heart. They make you feel holiness like wind through every fiber of your being and think rivers of holy thoughts.

Say that while each of the world’s great spiritual traditions may hint at that vastness you have longed for, none of them returns you to its threshold. Each of your chosen paths is about something, when all you’ve ever meant to choose is nothing. Simply because this is where you first saw God: in the emptiness.

Say prayer starts to dry up on your tongue. Sacred literature becomes fallen leaves, blows away.

The God you bow down to no longer draws you.

Say you bow down anyway. You repeat your mantra along the line of your prayer beads, continue chanting the divine names, melodious. You reread the scriptures, go to mass. You find satisfaction in none of these, yet you persevere. Why not? The things of the world are no competition. You long ago lost interest in material gain, in social status, in interpersonal drama.

This wretched limbo lasts for years.

Say each of the familiar spiritual rooms you go to seeking refuge are dark now, and empty. You sit down anyway. You take off your clothes at the door and enter naked. All agendas have fallen away. You grow so still in your nondoing that you forget for a moment that you are or that maybe God is not. This quietude deepens in proportion to your surrender.

Say what’s secretly going on is that the Beloved is loving you back. (192)

And that this darkness of the soul you have come upon and cannot seem to come out of is his final and greatest gift to you. Because it is only in this vast emptiness that he can enter, as your Beloved, and fill you. Where the darkness is nothing but unutterable radiance. Say he knows you are ready to receive him and to be annihilated in love. Can you say YES to that?


Recommended next (Kolodiejchuk)

Index of all resources


Published by Neil Durso

Just another mid-lifer sharing the journey...

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