Friday, August 05, 2011

Sift your dark nights of the soul for hidden gold

In her recent post, "Journeying from darkness to light", Irish blogger Marie Ennis-O’Connor shares helpful quotes from Thomas Moore's book, Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life's Ordeals (2004) as she deals with her experience of breast cancer. More than 20 comments suggest others, too find this book valuable while going through dark times. Readers appreciate Moore's observation about a dark night:
"It pushes you to the edge of what is familiar and reliable, stretching your imagination about how life works and who or what controls it all."
Amazon.com offers an excerpt from Moore's Introduction that includes:
"Many people think that the point in life is to solve their problems and be happy. But happiness is usually a fleeting sensation, and you never get rid of problems. Your purpose in life may be to become more who you are and more engaged with the people and the life around you, to really live your life. That may sound obvious, yet many people spend their time avoiding life. They are afraid to let it flow through them, and so their vitality gets channeled into ambitions, addictions, and preoccupations that don’t give them anything worth having. A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start.

Here I want to explore positive contributions of your dark nights, painful though they may be. I don’t want to romanticize them or deny their dangers. I don’t even want to suggest that you can always get through them. But I do see them as opportunities to be transformed from within, in ways you could never imagine. A dark night is like Dante getting sleepy, wandering from his path, mindlessly slipping into a cave. It is like Alice looking at the mirror and then going through it. It is like Odysseus being tossed by stormy waves and Tristan adrift without an oar. You don’t choose a dark night for yourself. It is given to you. Your job is to get close to it and sift it for its gold."

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