Dark Night of the Soul, a Lenten Meditation

La noche oscura del alma (Dark Night of the Soul) is the title given to a poem by 16th century Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross. These striking words seem to have been written to describe the very state of being for many of us today: loss, sadness, grief, despair.

It’s been a strange Lenten season and a trying time for our country. Day after day, we bear witness to laws passed and implemented that hurt the most vulnerable ones in the world and injure God’s creation.

What are we called to do as human beings, as Christians and as a church in these times of darkness? There are some voices that tell us that church needs to be a refuge from earthly concerns, a sacred, politics-free space. But this is not about politics. This is about right and wrong. Micah teaches us: “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

I believe that today we are called to stand firmly and to take our place amongst the forces of good.

For if we don’t speak up and don’t act on behalf of “the least of these,” the ones that the Bible calls us to feed and clothe and protect, then who are we and what do we stand for? Every day, we choose the side we are on. We choose with our action. And our inaction. We choose with our words. And our silence.

As I reflect on the darkness surrounding us, a striking thought comes to me. Is it possible that what we are witnessing is not the night eternal, but the heavy darkness just before the dawn of resurrection: a resurrection of our spirit, of our country, of us the people coming together to fight for what is right, to protect the vulnerable ones, to stand with the good?

And as the day of Easter draws near, I pray for such a God-inspired, man-made resurrection for all of us.


This meditation has been written for Washington National Cathedral and has originally appeared at https://cathedral.org/lenten-meditation/maria-fafard-2


If you enjoyed reading this meditation, you might also want to read “The Forest Prayer” and “Waiting for the Light“.


Hello, my name is Maria Fafard and I am delighted to meet you! I read old books, travel to thin places, think about meaning of life and write about all of these things. I care about people, ideas, and books, believe in power of liberal arts, try to nurture creativity in others and myself, and strive to live a meaningful life. I believe that travel in the physical world is often a symbol for seeking in the realm of mind and spirit, and that wherever we are, countless gifts of joy and wonder are offered to us every day – but we have to be present enough to look up and accept them.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog posts, you can follow me here on WordPress, on Medium, and on Twitter (@mariafafard). Thank you and I am looking forward to talking with you on your favorite platform!

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