For the Third Sunday of September we'll discuss the Dark Night of the Soul

"The Dark Night of the Soul" refers to a the fairly common experience, usually around mid-life, of a period of reactive depression, sometimes following a traumatic experience or personal loss, in which life seems to lose its savor; nothing seems to matter; everything looks meaningless and useless. In religious terms, God seems silent and distant; prayer offers no solace; spiritual matters too seem meaningless and useless. For many, this is a stage of personality development that ends with a reassessment of values and expectations, completion of grieving, and revisioning of the whole meaning of religion and God--all for the good and with very positive outcomes. It's like life forcing you into doing psychological work on yourself: a required makeover as you proceed into the second half of life.

The term comes from a poem called "On a Dark Night" by the Spanish mystic known as St. John of the Cross. The poem is interesting in itself because it really isn't about depression or life-transformation at all. It describes, in veiled language and metaphor, what seems to be an experience of anonymous homosexual sex in which the partner is recognized to be Jesus himself, that is, that all the events of life can be understood as visitations by divine beings, however one imagines them. That certainly is a religious, metaphorical way of understanding and coping with depression and trauma.

Let's talk about this idea of "The Dark Night of the Soul" on both these levels -- depression as a developmental stage AND sex & love as an experience of divine visitation.

September is usually "back-to-school" time, so most of us in this culture grow up making September the time of the year to get down to work and, maybe, to start anew. This is an appropriate time, just before the equinox, to be talking about "dark nights."

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There is no charge for the Gay Spirit MeetUp Group meetings, though we are asked to spend some money at the coffee bar at Genuine Joe's--so be sure to tell the people serving you coffees, cold drinks, cookies, snacks, etc that you're with the MeetUp. And please plan to arrive five or ten minutes early to get something from the snack bar AND to be on time. We always begin with introductions and if you arrive late we're liable not to get to learn your name and who you are.

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  • Toby J.

    We had a little smaller group today--maybe because it's been raining. We had 2 women and 10 men. The topic was the "Dark Night of the Soul" so, naturally, the conversation was sort of sober and serious as we talked about facing depression and reassessment of one's life choices. Several people shared very heartfelt stories of losing loved ones and being almost sole caretaker for aging relatives and being stuck for years in an unfulfilling marriage. We also talked about the symbolism on the John of the Cross poem which gives rise to the expression Dark Night of the Soul. The message of the poem seems to be recognize the divine presence in everyone you meet AND to follow your heart even when you don't know where that's going to lead you. It was a good, rainy-day conversation.

    September 16, 2012

  • Ladi L.

    I wish I could be there. I'll be working this weekend in Houston. Have a good time and I'll save my Dark Night for another Sunday.

    September 12, 2012

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