If there was such a thing as a divine suggestion box, I’d suggest that God make things easier. Or if not easier, at least clearer. I would love to close this book with something more substantial than empty faith, unattached love, and hopeless hope. I would love to be able to make practical suggestions about how to identify and claim the transformative qualities of the dark night in your own life. I yearn to offer something that would really make the hard times easier and bring a definite sense of meaning to the unavoidable sufferings of life. It would be so wonderful to be able to prescribe effective methods or understandings that could help us get a grip on our destinies. But the nature of the dark night does not permit that. It comes as gift and in obscurity, as and when it will, taking us where we would not and could not go on our own. And though in truth we say yes to it, we have little or no control over it. The reason for the obscurity, John says, is to keep us safe, so we don’t stumble because we think we know where we’re going. I do want to trust that.
All we have in our own hands is our desire, which is at once our prayer, our yes, and our hope. For me, in the good times, hope is synonymous with trust. I move into the next moment with confidence and an expectations of goodness. In the hard times, hope takes on an increasing feeling of risk. I hope for the best, but the next moment feels uncertain, even scary. And in the worst of times, the hope and desire may be reduced to a bare ember, so faint as to be almost undetectable. But it is always there, and sooner or later we are drawn to it. I believe that with repeated experiences of touching that desire, we do learn to recognize it, claim it, and know it as who we really are. Maybe, in a way, that is a kind of progress.
Gerald G. May, M.D., The Dark Night of the Soul.