our dark night of the soul

“May God be pleased to give me His light,
that I may speak profitably of this;
for I have great need of it while treating of a night so dark
and speaking of a subject so difficult.5”

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul


(2017 / Julie Cook)

Our days are shrouded by a shadowy veil…
as darkness yearns to cover what small light remains.

I feel the palpable trepidation…I know you do too.

Straddling a great divide, which widens day by day, we are
stretched nearly to a breaking point.

How much longer is our collective lament.
Yet I fear this is just the beginning.

“The reason why the soul not only travels securely when it thus travels
in the dark, but makes even greater progress, is this:
In general the soul makes greater progress when it least thinks so,
yea, most frequently when it imagines that it is losing.
Having never before experienced the present novelty which dazzles it,
and disturbs its former habits, it considers itself as losing,
rather than as gaining ground,
when it sees itself lost in a place it once knew,
and in which it delighted, traveling by a road it knows not,
and in which it has no pleasure.
As a traveler into strange countries goes by ways strange and untried,
relying on information derived from others, and not upon any knowledge
of his own—it is clear that he will never reach a new country but
by new ways which he knows not,
and by abandoning those he knew—so in the same way the soul makes
the greater progress when it travels in the dark, not knowing the way.
But inasmuch as God Himself is here the guide of the soul in its blindness,
the soul may well exult and say,
“In darkness and in safety,” now that it has come to a knowledge of its state.”

St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul

lost sheep seeking the Good Shepherd

Sinners have a spiritual vision that Pharisees do not have.
They look at Christ, and their humility allows them to perceive
in him their only hope of salvation.
The Pharisee sees merely the man, whereas the lost sheep sees the Good Shepherd!

Fr. Sean Davidson
From his book Saint Mary Magdalene:
Prophetess of Eucharistic Love


(My most favorite sheep, ever / Co Donegal, Ireland / Gleann Cholm Cille /
Julie Cook / 2015)

Growing up a city girl, I always assumed that there was but one type of sheep;
White and fluffy.

And for reasons that escape me, I have always had a deep affinity for sheep.

I’ve shared this notion before but I think this affinity was born from a prayer.
It is derived from the prayer of the penitent…a prayer I grew up praying
since childhood– found in The Book of Common Prayer.

The prayer begins…Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep…”

A prayer that speaks straight to the root of my heart…erring and straying.
I think I’ve always identified with both that whole straying and lost
sheep business.

So bah bah I go…

I have been known to vow that one day I would escape to someplace obscure,
becoming a shepherd…
or if should I need to be more PC, that would that be shepherdess…
but I’ll just stick with shepherd since I don’t care for the interchangeability
of pronouns and monikers.

A shepherd of sheep.
The shepherd calls and sheep know his name….

Over the years, my various moves from city to rural life, along
with various travels, taught me otherwise…sheep come in many sizes,
shapes and colors…but it wasn’t until a trip to Ireland that the whole sheep
variety thing played out in real life.


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)


(Julie Cook / 2015)

And so knowing human beings as I do…I know that we seek that often
elusive shepherd…
We seek the voice of the one who will guide us and care for us…
We seek it in our relationships.
We seek it in our jobs.
We seek it in our leaders—
for we are innately seeking one who will care and lead.

The trouble is that we most often seek the wrong voices, the wrong
lights, the wrong directions, the wrong glitz…
We seek temporary satisfaction in our shepherds.
We seek more of the immediate gratification and quick easy fit.

Yet sadly, those that we seek are limited, short-lived,
or most often then not, fleeting.

There is only One who is consistent and constant…never changing.
He knows each of his sheep…both lost and found.
He will leave the found 99 in order to go find, rescue and fetch that 1
who is lost.

How fortunate we are those who have erred and strayed!


(one of a kind / Julie Cook /2015)

“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely
in this obscurity; it has suffered:
for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable,
than that of rejoicing and of action.
In suffering God gives strength,
but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness
and imperfections.
And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue,
and becomes pure, wiser, and more cautious.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 149
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

who knew

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter
there Thy cheerful beams.”

St. Augustine


(a wee ghost crab / Julie Cook / 2021)

Firstly–the other day, I spoke of fiats…and no, sorry, not the car.
(Sorry theearthspins.wordpress.com not cars this time)

Rather I spoke of decrees…earthly decrees vs Heavenly decrees.
As in… man vs God

Man’s decrees, proclamations, ultimatums, judgements…

versus,

God’s decrees…
as in… Word from on High—Commandments,
end of sentence types… as in… because I said so sorts of decrees.

I wrote about Mary’s decree, her words in response to the messenger of God,
Gabriel.
Her decree to Gabriel’s announcement.
Gabriel greeted her by telling her not to fear and that she
was the most blessed amongst all women… for she
had been chosen by God to bear the Savior of all mankind…

Her decree response you ask?…

“May it be so…may Your will, oh Father, be my will, as you would have done
unto me…
May it be so according to thy will.”

So secondly within this tale, there was a person who left me
a comment regarding said post.

This person told me that he often used my posts as part of a devotional.
I was humbled and flattered—however strange as it seems,
I now seem to be a persona non gratis in this person’s book…
simply because I had opted write about man’s selfish and arrogant decrees which
this commentator equated to my stirring the pot against all things leftist.

As in… I had written against Biden’s idea of how to clear out of Afghanistan.
(if it looks like a bafooned duck, it must be a bafooned duck, just saying)

I wrote negatively regarding Obama’s hypocritical birthday bash—elitist
and arrogant when his political party demands that we wee people mask up while they,
the sophisticated, partied hardy into the night with nary a mask in sight.
(I actually wrote about that soirée in length last week but no one said anything
about that post except Oneta who questioned why Martha’s vineyard would
have traffic issues following Obama’s party when churches with more attendees have
no problems whatsoever.)

I wrote about the lunacy of both Madame Pelosi and Mr. Schumer dancing and partying
while it seems the rest of us were /are having multiple humanitarian
crisis across our border as well as around the world—
throw in Tennessee’s flooding tragedies and Haiti’s devastation from the
latest hurricane and is it just me, but dancing and parties just seem /seemed
out of step…no dance puns intended.

And thus I explained that I wanted to showcase the tilted balance found between
man’s decree’s measured against the decrees of God.

Earthly failings of folly vs Heavenly triumphs of Glory.

In my posts, I often compare and contrast.

I do so by exploring whatever latest lunacy is racing through the days
of man versus the steadfast Word of our God.
Man and his superficial fiat debacles…which are the results and repercussions from
earthly commands and the impact they are having on our society which stand in stalk
contrast of the Great I AM

God’s Word vs man’s word.

Which of the two fiats would be everlasting?
Which of the two decrees will fail every time?

And speaking of earthly fiats….

Did you know that a giant rock could be a racist?

This past week, the leadership of The University of Wisconsin caved
to the Woke cries of racism all because of a massive boulder.

It seems that a huge rock, a rock which has graced the campus for well over
100 years and has been deeply rooted as part of the college’s culture
of tradition, was back-hoed up and moved out of the ground…taken far far away.

Back in the early 1920’s students once used a derogatory
term in order to describe the rock. The rock was a black
rock, so I’ll let you figure out the derogatory term.

However, despite no records showing that the term had ever been used after 1925…
it mattered not–man decreed, “off with its head–
or rather, move that rock!

Moving on…

Who knew that Leprechauns were considered offensive and insensitive to certain
groups of folks???
And because Leprechauns are now offensive, the fighting Irish of Notre Dame
need to get rid of their mascot??!!

I am of Irish descent.
I have visited Ireland.
I have traversed those mystical woods and moors where the wee folk
are said to roam.

Ireland is proud of her past– be it mystical, pagan or Christian…it
all melds into making the Emerald Isle a beautiful mystery–

So I dare you to show me one Leprechaun who is opposed to Notre Dame’s mascot
and I’ll share that pot of gold!!!

This is how idiotic we humans have become.

So yes, I compare and contrast.
Man vs God…

I’m going with God every time!!!!

“The strength of the soul consists in its faculties, passions and desires,
all of which are governed by the will.
Now when these faculties, passions and desires are directed by the
will toward God, and turned away from all that is not God,
then the strength of the soul is kept for God, and thus
the soul is able to love God with all its strength.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 259
An Excerpt From
Ascent of Mt. Carmel

beat down but not broken

“Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty,
persevere in it for this very reason.
God often desires to see what love your soul has,
and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.”

St. John of the Cross


(The pampas grass beat down following the deluge of TS Fred / Julie Cook /2021)


(The pampas grass beat down following the deluge of TS Fred / Julie Cook /2021)

Like many of my fellow Americans, I think it would only be fair of me
to acknowledge that I too am frustrated.

Frustrated, mad, sad, depressed, angry…and any other words that
describe this feeling of betrayal and disappointment.

I think many of us are feeling that we should just throw in the towel.
Throwing up our hands….up in the air proclaiming “WE QUIT!”

Yep. We. Quit.

As in we are mad as hell and do not care to take this nonsense any more!

Like many of you, I am so angry over the apparent loss of direction and
leadership that is supposed to be keeping a steady hand on this ship’s wheel…
With that ship being the good ol USA.

The latest frustration, coming on the heels of consecutive years of frustration,
is currently happening half a globe away.
Despite being so far away, it is something that is supposed to be under
the watchful eye of the leadership in our Nation’s capitol.

I read today that a former soldier stated that the Afghanistan debacle
is nothing but an out of control dumpster fire….
meaning that it is an out of control mess that has erupted into
uncontrollable flames.
A raging fire with no one there to work at putting out the flames.
Think instant combustion produced when multiple toxins collide.

It all could have been prevented if the right set of eyes were
keeping watch.

And like many of you, I am tired of the more elite folks among us…
those sions of business, technology, entertainment…
oligarchs and technocrats who hold control over so many of us…
controlling with the power wielded by their mega bucks…
Those movers and shakers who vie for the throne of rule.
I am tired of their attempts at controlling me and you and what we
can and cannot do all because they vie to play God.
They who think they know what is best for both you and I.

I am tired of elitist politicians who, long ago, lost their way.

I am tired of woke athletes who prefer lecturing fans rather
then playing ball.
Athletes who put politics above what they are being paid to do–play ball.
Athletes who belittle the fans who actually pay for their elitist lives
via tickets and merchandise support, fans who just want folks to play ball.

I am tired of being belittled and disparaged because I claim to
be a moralist, a conservative, a Christian…a person who loves this country.
I am tired of the ridicule simply because I chose not vote for Bill,
Barak, Hillary or Joe.
I am tired of being equated with ignorance, backwardness and
living out of step with the times only because I choose to have
a differing opinion.

And I dare say, I am not alone.

Yet this is all most likely due to our own ‘bad’.
Our sitting back a bit too long.
Our settling into complacency.
Our allowing ourselves to be swayed and swept up into the zeal
of the pigs wearing lipstick.
The distracting shimmering sparkles of false riches they’ve tried
offering us.

When the tropical storm Fred made its way northward, it brought with
it a torrent of rain.

I looked out from the back porch as a racing river of rain tore
its way downward through our yard.
A grassy yard that was now a churning angry lake.

Later in the day, once the rains had passed, I looked outside again.
That was when I saw how badly the pampas grass bushes
had been beaten down by the downpours.

Suddenly I felt very much like that pampas grass.
There was a time when I felt content…seemingly tall while
being able to sway to and fro with the wind.

Now I feel as if I’ve been reduced to the look of being trampled.

And just when I felt a sea of despair washing over me,
I stumbled on these two quotes of the day…
one by St. John of the Cross, the author of The
Dark Night of the Soul…and the other by
St. Augustine of Hippo—an early founding leader of
this thing I call my Christian Faith.

A faith that was honed, forged and tested by countless men and women
who bore much but have long gone before now…
Men and women who knew the trials of frustration, lies, wars,
torment, persecution…but men and women who, like the pampas grass,
may have been beaten down…yet what we know about them,
they were never ever broken…

Their bodies may have broken but their spirit and faith remained…
and it is why we are still here these 2000 some odd years later.

These may feel like beaten down days…
but what we as Believers must remember, we will never be broken.

“There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world.
If the love of the world takes possession of you,
there is no way for the love of God to enter into you.
Let the love of the world take the second place,
and let the love of God dwell in you.
Let the better love take over.”

St. Augustine, p. 34
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day

Seek

“He who seeks not the Cross of Christ seeks not the glory of Christ.”
St. John of the Cross

“Oh, how painful it is to Me that souls so seldom unite themselves
to Me in Holy Communion. I wait for souls, and they are indifferent toward Me.
I love them tenderly and sincerely, and they distrust Me.
I want to lavish My graces on them, and they do not want to accept them.
They treat Me as a dead object, whereas My Heart is full of love and mercy.
In order that you may know at least some of My pain,
imagine the most tender of mothers who has great love for her children,
while those children spurn her love.
Consider her pain.
No one is in a position to console her.
This is but a pale image and likeness of My love.”

Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska, 1447
An Except From
Diary of St. Faustina

silence and the greatest foe

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you,
remember Christ crucified and be silent.”

St. John of the Cross


(the spoils of the surf /Julie Cook / 2021)

“Let us beware of complaints, resentments,
and evil-speaking against those who are ill-disposed to us,
discontented with us, or hostile to our plans and arrangements,
or who even persecute us with injuries, insults, and calumnies.
Rather let us go on treating them as cordially as at first,
or more so, as far as possible showing them esteem,
always speaking well of them, doing them good,
serving them on occasion, even to the point of taking shame and disgrace
upon ourselves, if necessary to save their honor.
All this ought to be done, first, to overcome evil with good,
according to the teaching of the Apostles; and secondly,
because they are our allies rather than our adversaries,
as they aid us to destroy self-love, which is our greatest foe;
and since it is they who give us an opportunity to gain merit,
they ought to be considered our dearest friends.”

St. Vincent de Paul, p.413

An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

what is your heart’s desire?

“God does not fit in an occupied heart.”
St. John of the Cross


(waning sunflowers / Julie Cook / 2021)

God then directs these words to you:
If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free
from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit;
turn away from evil and do good;
let peace be your quest and aim.

Saint Benedict
from The Rule of Saint Benedict

***taking the week off from technology… or as best I can.
Off on adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff

the dark night…and we were made for this

“The soul, however, cannot be perfectly purified from these imperfections,
any more than from the others,
until God shall have led it into the passive purgation of the dark night,
of which I shall speak immediately.
But it is expedient that the soul, so far as it can,
should labor, on its own part, to purify and perfect itself,
that it may merit from God to be taken under His divine care,
and be healed from those imperfections which of itself it cannot remedy.
For, after all the efforts of the soul,
it cannot by any exertions of its own actively purify itself
so as to be in the slightest degree fit for the divine union of perfection
in the love of God,
if God Himself does not take it into His own hands and purify
it in the fire, dark to the soul.”

St. John of the Cross, p.14
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul


(courtesy the web)

I can never remember a time when I have felt so desolate,
so angst ridden, so forlorn and dare I say, depressed.

And it’s because I no longer know this Nation of ours.

I don’t recognize…us.

There is so much that I want to say.
So very much that needs to be said.

So much I want to say about the lies, the indoctrination, the falsehoods,
and the division—

I want to scream…”Don’t you get it???
He’s doing this…he’s nothing but thrilled that we are tearing
one another a part…

And so, again, don’t you get it…don’t we get it?
This is exactly what he wants…
it’s what he’s planned now for eons.

We are in the midst of a tribulation.
A time of division.
A time of lies.
A time of sinister diversion.

We know that this is currently his battle because
this is his realm.
Yet at the same time we know the ultimate
victory will be ours because our Savior lives.

Yet the frustration remains, that this battle must be fought.

And it feels like a raging maelstrom that has us all
in the center of its grip.

However we, both you and I, have been made for this time.

God has prepared both you and me…
The task at hand is not easy.
It will not be easy.
It will not be kind.
The Father is asking us for our all.

The question is…will you give your all…
or will you ignore the coming storm?

Will you face the enemy head on, telling all who
have ears to hear that he is a liar?

Or will you turn and pretend nothing is happening.

So the question remains…will you speak?
Will you act.
There is little to no time in which to decide.
Time is of the essense
The goats have been cast to one side while the sheep to the other.

Give us strength oh Lord…

Luke 21:9-26:
New International Version

When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened.
These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be great earthquakes,
famines and pestilences in various places,
and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you.
They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison,
and you will be brought before kings and governors,
and all on account of my name.
And so you will bear testimony to me.
But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you
will defend yourselves.
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries
will be able to resist or contradict.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters,
relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
Everyone will hate you because of me.
But not a hair of your head will perish.
Stand firm, and you will win life.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies,
you will know that its desolation is near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,
let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.
For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment
of all that has been written.
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women
and nursing mothers!
There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners
to all the nations.
Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

fall in love…

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
to seek Him the greatest adventure;
to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

St. Augustine of Hippo


(an old handmade Christimas ornament from 1965 / Julie Cook, 2014)

“They who are bent on sensible sweetness, labor also under another very great imperfection:
excessive weakness and remissness on the rugged road of the cross;
for the soul that is given to sweetness naturally sets its face against
all the pain of self-denial.
They labor under many other imperfections, which have their origin here,
of which our Lord will heal them in due time, through temptations,
aridities** and trials, elements of the dark night.”

St. John of the Cross, p. 28
An Excerpt From
Dark Night of the Soul

**Aridity– ascetical theology…a state of a soul devoid of sensible consolation,
which makes it very difficult to pray

To the place where God is hidden

“Faith and love are like the blind man’s guides.
They will lead you along a path unknown to you,
to the place where God is hidden.”

St. John of the Cross


(mushrooms found along my walk in the woods / Julie Cook / 2020)

The point is simply that without God’s grace we cannot be good.
Without love, justice turns to cruelty.
Without hope, courage turns to blind despair.
Without faith, this-worldly wisdom is foolishness to God.
The two levels, natural and supernatural, hang together.

Peter Kreeft
from Back to Virtue