Oh you guiding night!  Oh night more kindly than the dawn!

St. John of the Cross

This is the last in a series of three consecutive reflections on the dark night of the soul.

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St. John of the Cross knew the dark night of the soul as an experience which taught him the joys and pains of human existence, of life – all life, everyone’s life. He knew it as the experience which taught him how to address suffering and injustice, and maximize his peace and tranquility amid life’s gusts and gales and gentle breezes.

Psychotherapist Gerald G. May, M.D., shared John’s sentiments.  May, after years of working with patients, concluded that to treat suffering within a medical model neglected the fact that we are spiritual beings and that to be healthy and whole a person had to learn to integrate the circumstances he or she encountered in life, not mask, medicate, or attempt to avoid them.

Dr. May knew that suffering and pain properly encountered led to growth, understanding, strength, courage, compassion, intimate connection with others, forgiveness, balance and stability, insight, wisdom, depth of being and peace within and without.

Both John and Dr. May knew that suffering was a natural experience in life and that if addressed it invited greater freedom and full development of the human person.  In this, each saw the dark nights as vessels of hope and growth. Dr. May, in particular, saw how present day psychological and neurological insights confirmed and verified spiritual truth born in ages past.

May’s understandings of suffering and pain common in human existence led him to advise us thus: “Listen to the truth of you own life experience” especially amid the dark nights which challenge us and grow our soul.

Our True Nature is Eternal, Joyous, Selfless and Pure.

Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo

Have you noticed how the birds chirp in the cold rain of late autumn?