Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dark Night of the Senses

It's been a challenging year. My father passed away in May, I'm squeezing in grad school around my writing and my seventy-hour-a-week job as mother and house manager, and money is forever tight. Then about a month ago everything started breaking down: the car experienced a mystery problem, our cable connection pooped out for two days (and they couldn't figure out what that was either), expected funds arrived late, I was told erroneously that my financial aid had been canceled, the dryer broke, my hair dryer even died, and various other little things just went kaput. All the while I am trying to deal with these issues my beloved and bright three-year-old is chattering away, telling me stories about her stuffed animals and asking the ceaseless Why. Then I discovered a black widow in the garage while cleaning out an old fish tank to house inherited gold fish.

I've been learning a lot about my warrior spirit.

And I've realized most helpfully that I am in a particularly cleansing phase of the Dark Night of the Senses. This phase of spiritual evolution is marked by the bumps and bruises that occur when one transitions from psychic to subtle levels of development. It is about burning up negative energy and attachments and releasing our attachment to and identification with certain states. For instance, when my father died I faced my identity as Daughter and what that meant for me. Dealing with the screwed up car brings me right into my fear of the unknown, my driving anxieties (and all the lovely metaphors thereof), and my fear of asking for help.

The amazing blessing is (besides that I realize I am going through a powerful spiritual shift) that my husband seems to be going through his Dark Night of the Senses at the same time. We face it differently of course: he gets withdrawn and lugubrious and I fry things and get all anxious. But having someone to talk to, to realize our paths with, is deeply crucial to my sanity. I'm a lucky woman.

I've been reading Jim Marion, Trungpa Rinpoche, and Ken Wilbur to help me through (see links below). Marion is a Christian, Trungpa a Buddhist, and Wilbur an integral guy. I need the blend as my path is not really any one religion, but a blend of Pagan, Christian, and Buddhist. Here is what is helping me right now. Marion says we need to send compassion to our "demons" and to trust God. Trungpa teaches witnessing our anxious behaviors and settling into the sadness that lies underneath. Marion talks about the sadness as a cleansing as the old negativities burn up. Again he says to turn to God and live in faith allowing His grace to soothe and guide us. Trungpa talks about acceptance of what is, the natural unfolding of life all around. I see these as different ways of saying the same thing. Trust. Breath. Feel. Offer compassion and softness to myself and the world.

Does anyone know if there are Pagan stories and guidance through the Dark Night? I'd be very curious to read them.

Blessings to all, wherever you are on your path.


Here are the books that are helping me right now:

1 comment:

mama p said...

During our Thanksgiving drive to a beach in Delaware (about 4 hours away), we listened to a CD recording of Clarissa Pinkola Estes' stories from "Women Who Run With the Wolves". The one in particular that sticks out in my mind is of a woman who, dealing with the incredible anger and grief of her husband, is instructed to go to the top of the mountain and gain a single hair off of a fearsome bear who lives there. It was a powerful story about patience and faith, and it seems to fit the bill here... It was a Japanese tale, but "pagan" in all of its elements of magic, nature, mysterious spiritual healers, etc. I'm sure you have her book-- but the library may have the recordings. :)