Our lives are full of both joy and crises. A loved one dies. A flower blooms. A friend betrays a trust. We watch a child smile. We fail. We soar.
We have all had a crisis of faith where we feel like our doubts make us unworthy of being a part of church or close to God. We have a crisis of vocation when we aren’t sure what we are supposed to do with our lives. We have had a crisis of heartbreak when people we cherished didn’t reciprocate. In these crisis moments, it seems like God is so far away. What happened to the blessings, the joy and the hope we were promised? Are we being punished with suffering? Yet, now when we look back on our faith journey, we have come to recognize that the times we have felt the closest to God have come in the midst of a crisis. There was an inverted blessing in the darkness.
Dante called this the Dark Wood. Saint Theresa of Avila called it the fifth mansion. St John of the Cross - named it the dark night of the soul. These mystics share a counter-cultural reality that the hardships, the failures and the emptiness are not curses. “In the Christian tradition, there is no greater waypoint in life’s Dark Wood than the Cross…It is a “dark” symbol to be sure, but in the Dark Wood of life, one soon discovers that darkness is not always what it appears.” (Eric Elnes, Gifts of the Dark Wood)
This Lent, I invite you to journey toward the cross, exploring the gifts of the Dark Wood along the way. And exploring together, how might the struggles of life be the seedbed of spiritual awakening.
I have found it profoundly helpful during Lent to write down and reflect upon the “10 stepping stones of my faith.” Try this exercise during Lent and see if you are not transformed. When I wrote them down, I was amazed at all the threads God wove together.
I would love to meet for tea or coffee and talk about YOUR “10 stepping stones of faith” with you. When can we meet?