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The dark night of the soul

Dear Laura F

The nature of life is cyclical. We want the ups but avoid the downs. Our society has an unwritten expectation that if we have it together, then we are only up and positive. One question is, what do we do when we seemingly hit a bottom of pain that is so challenging it’s hard to imagine how we will get through. I call this, The dark night of the soul. There is a way through...

"SB" had a great life. Successful in the field of finance, a loving spouse and four grown children, two happily married, two in good colleges. Having just taken an early retirement she was faced with a vast empty space in front of her and no clear purpose. Boredom and emptiness were overwhelmingly painful. She had everything one could want. Traveling was fun and entertaining but why was she so sad?

"R" was a high functioning professional psychologist. His wife, he believed, was cheating on him but he couldn’t prove it and she denied it. His teenage son was using drugs and his daughter refused to speak to him. He had been leading support groups for years and his boss stopped the support group program. He would be heading home directly after work. What would he do with himself?

"M’s" parents both passed away, one right after the other. She was an only child and though an adult, being unmarried, with no other family close by, felt terribly alone. She lived alone and already felt lonely much of the time. This loss felt unbearable.

In each of these scenarios, there is one common denominator. The feeling of utter alone-ness. Even when in the midst of good company, a loving romantic relationship or partner, we can feel overcome with emptiness. What do we do with our despair? What is that feeling? What does it take to feel content? Fulfilled?

There is an opportunity in the utter despair of emptiness. An invitation into the dark night to find the longing of the soul. An invitation into the vast unknown spiritual mystery of finding connection with a force greater than ourselves. A non-physical force, a spiritual presence, an aliveness that has consciousness and presence.

When I was a young girl of seven years, I remember lying in my bed at night, and looking out the window at the stars in the dark silent sky. I remember feeling a part of everything of all that is. I didn’t feel alone. I knew somehow, I belonged. I felt deep peace.

In our tumultuous noisy world of today, there is scarcely a moment to stop and reflect. Technology has crowded our minds with fears and our spiritual wisdom is lagging far behind our ability to sustain the growth of technology with values, integrity or wisdom.

The materialistic needs of the body do not intersect with the longing of the soul. The soul longs for contact with the unseen world.

The soul longs for communion with the wisdom of the heart.

The soul longs for a relationship with the Divine.

The soul longs to lean on a force of Love and believe that there is a reason that is ‘good’ for all the ‘bad’ that happens.

Feed your hungry soul. Find the presence in the seeming alone-ness.

Take a walk, alone, and breathe deeply the life-force in the air.

Listen to the miracle of your heart beating for 60 seconds.

Say a prayer (even if you don’t believe in Who you’re praying to).

Do an anonymous act of kindness.

Your soul will smile.

With love and gratitude,

Laura Fine

Therapist, MFT degree, MA, Author, Counselor, Coach, Transformational Workshop Leader 858-722-5474

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