Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Memorial ::: St. John of the Cross

Hailed as a "masterpiece of Religious Literature" Dark Night of the Soul Spanish: La noche oscura del alma is the title of a poem written by 16th century Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross. It's also the name of a treatise he wrote later, commenting on the poem. I have a copy right here on my shelf.

When he was a mere 25, Carmelite Friar John (1542-1591) was hand-picked by St. Teresa of Avila to lead a reform movement among Carmelite men, like the one she'd begun with her clsoe-knit community of nuns. Some of the friars did not welcome reform. In "Dark Night of the Soul" John explains a poem he wrote during the time he was imprisoned by anti-reform friars. It describes the soul's mystical path toward oneness with God as a time marked by periods of darkness that are spiritually fruitful, and lead to light. John has inspired many through his mystical life and theology. I have written more about John's book here.

For me, the closing days of any given year and introspectional and inspirational. There are times of darkness, as surely as there are times of light. I'm typing this early Monday afternoon, to be posted on John of the Cross's day of memorial, December 14th. It is a very dark afternoon as the winter equinox approaches. So far, today has been a day of getting things in order, cleaning out my workspace around the house and doing a bit of spiritual reflection. Each of us can be nothing more than who we are. Life is a struggle for all, although when you look out your window there is no way you can know of the struggles the people passing by may be carrying within their hearts. Look for a post on Thursday or Friday about my codes and commandments for living. Whatever your religion or belief system entails, the dark days of December before Christmas are excellent times to get closer to understanding one's true self.

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