There are dark moments of the soul when the sun has disappeared and clouds hang heavy. There seems no shaking the uneasiness that has taken residence in your otherwise light heart, and the spirit is furtive, wanting escape. But there is no escape, no way out, no passing the moment or hours or days, or exchanging for something less disturbing. You question and analyze, search and dig, review and replay your thoughts, frustrations and fears over and over for some sign, some reason, something that makes sense of your unsettling malaise… to no avail. There is no answer, no relief, no reprieve, just more unknown and darkness and chaos inside that grows larger and heavier and harder to bear. What do you do with these midnight eclipses? How long will it last? How do you move beyond or over or through it?
This dark brooding, the elusive shadow of soul at such entrenched unrest, is unfamiliar territory and I don’t like it. I don’t like the unknowns and unhappiness, the unresolved and unmarked pathways that seemingly over and over lead to nowhere. This dark soul seems more bullying in a way than other times of unrest, more forceful in my spirit, paying no attention to the normal routes to resolution, waving aside attempts to distract or talk or be ignored. It hovers and sneers and steps menacingly into my personal space, taunting and making fun of my desire for joy and satisfaction in the simple and real. And I’m getting angry.
Thomas Moore in his book SoulMates writes of the dark soup of the soul… the muck and chaos that often comes. He suggests that the soul needs the dark, does its best work in the sitting with and working through rather than fleeing from the mud and muck of life. He advocates that we should actively choose to stay rather than run from it, as is our usual course, for it is during times such as these that the deeper soul is being formed.
Sue Monk Kidd touts a similar philosophy in While the Heart Waits. Stay in the question, is her wisdom. Embrace fully the in-between and not-yet. Rest in the unknown, for even when it seems you are getting no where, like a butterfly yet in a cocoon, the dark, quiet and question times are where the real work is taking place. Don’t run from it, but live with it, knowing more beauty, depth and meaning will be your rewards when your time is right to be “birthed” from this place.
I take great encouragement from both Moore and Kidd, and have experienced that in my own life, in my own soul-full living. I have chosen to live and teach this philosophy more often than not, finding great freedom in embracing the dark rather than fighting it, in choosing to take tea with my demons rather than futilely trying to exterminate them. And in honesty have fairly consistently found the life, lessons and release to newness along the way that was predicted. It’s the living in the moment part of soul-full living that I passionately believe in, whether the moment is bright white with beauty or deepest black with despair.
But there seems to be something different with this round. I have been living with it for awhile now, giving it its space, allowing its murky, soup-like wrestlings and nurturing the stay-with-it rather than run or fight plan. I want it resolved already, yet get no sense of the question even formed or in process. And I’m over it.
When does it come time to kick your soul’s butt in tough love fashion versus fostering brat-like attempts of your soul to control and hold hostage your right to freedom of spirit and pursuit of happiness in enjoying soul-full living and life in even the most mundane and seemingly going nowhere moments?
If there’s a question to be asked, ask it. If there is a problem to be solved, lay it out. I will sit with and allow soul to mull and process through if indeed it is in process, figuring something out, if even it’s figuring out the question or problem that needs to be figured out.
But there comes a time when I say, “NO MORE!” Soul, you hath broodeth your last. I will not be subjected to your bullying any longer. The tears, the wondering, the listlessness and ambivalent fretting are over. I’m through having tea with you.Watch now as I pour it out onto your lap, yank the tablecloth off and throw it, with cookies, plates and silverware, as far as Not-Doing-This-Any-More goes.
And somehow, just this act of taking control, of saying “NO MORE!”…I’m smiling. I like this part of my soul, when I’m done being nice. It’s a new side to Strength of Soul I needed to see, I needed to hear from, the side that knows when enough is enough and chooses to fight this darkness that has no destiny and win back Life once again.
So see you later Dark Night of the Soul. I’m through with you. Come back later when you have something worth fighting for; I’ll be ready. Until then, watch me live again renewed and invigorated, stronger than ever, thanks to you!
To know when nice is no longer an option will be different for every soul, every person. But when you find it, act on it. Redemption will be at hand, and your soul will thank you for opening the door once again to life waiting to be lived.
Orignally published at Examiner