I have a special place in my heart for those once very religious people, Christians mostly, who couldn’t stand the emptiness, the barren silence of their religion and so, dropped it like a bad habit.

Unfortunately, many of those very religious people, Christians mostly, became atheists.

“The Dark Night,” a poem written by one of the greatest Spanish poets, Saint John of the Cross, is about that very special journey, the road traveled by precious few, that horrific pilgrimage whereby the disciple travels from earth to heaven.

If only those very religious Christians could have continued on their journey.

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During that journey, the disciple’s body and mind undergo an intensive tempering, a strenuous and thorough purification whose end is their unity with the soul, which is perfect and eternal.

The description that many atheists give of their pervious, religious lives sounds like it came straight from Saint John’s work, “The Dark Night.”

If would seem that these atheists are of a sort called contemplatives.   Contemplative discipleship is the polar opposite of active discipleship. Most Christians are the active type of disciple.  That is they practice there religion in a highly social environment.

The contemplative experience takes place in silence and inactivity and is the polar opposite of active discipleship.  Consequently, the contemplative most definitely would feel out of place in most churches.

And this would be especially so because the discipleship of the contemplative begins alone in the Dark Night of the soul, not in the noisy, hustle-bustle, activist, social, musical fellowship that most people think of as the Christian religious lifestyle.

It’s a crying shame that these very gifted former Christians gave up on their faith and “came out” as atheists, instead of continuing on into the Dark Night and “coming out” as contemplatives, people of silence and inactivity.

Yes, you’re right.  It’s much safer to “come out” as an atheist among Christians than it is to “come out” as a contemplative among Christians.

But that’s just one aspect of the Dark Night of the Soul.

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