Darkness – An Unusual but Necessary Friend

Feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, frustrated by a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12: 7-9) is a recurring decimal in the spiritual life. If you have had a prickle stuck in the flesh of your hand or feet, you know the frustration to get this tiny and annoying enemy out. Almost like the corona virus, it is present but you can hardly see it. Fighting to dislodge this tiny enemy pushes it even further into the flesh. Once in frustration mood, abandoning the futile effort is your best chance. Like a ring on a finger, it becomes an unwilling friend with which you travel.  Initially, there’s annoyance, annoyance turns to accommodation, and then, what? Forgetfulness! 

Overwhelmed by my own thorn, I fall flat and helpless on  a hard floor with the night’s darkness my only blanket. The hard dirty floor triggered memories of my priestly ordination, lying prostrate on the hard dirty cathedral floor during the singing of the Litany of Saints. Is this a sign of priesthood?  Then a recent mental picture of scores of homeless women and men lying in the dark on the hard and dirty city sidewalks replaces the ordination scene. Is their poverty a sacrament of the priestly life?

Ordination Mass – 28th June 1992

Enveloped by the dark, eventually I notice an incredible sight. Always present, but escaped by awareness. Spots of light decorating the room’s ceiling and walls with no uniform pattern. From where did they come? Oh! Piercing through the small openings of the window curtains, the street lights found their way into my darkness. Incredible! A new focus is born. Eyes now glued to the light giving life to feelings of joy!

What wise lesson from this experience? “. . . if God is with me, what real difference does it make in the end how I get to where I am going? It’s never what I do that counts. It is who I become because of what I do which, in the end, is the real measure of the beauty of my life” (Joan Chittister, Breath of the Soul).

Lord, give me the grace to be less distracted with the prickles of life and focus more on your Presence.   

5 thoughts on “Darkness – An Unusual but Necessary Friend

  1. Wow. Very profound. I am particularly touched by the thought that it’s not what I do but who I become that counts. Sometimes God allows the darkness because He wants to work on us. Therefore in yielding to Him and surrendering to the darkness in whatever form it takes, we can grow into someone more beautiful, with more virtues…like beauty rising out of the ashes. Thank you for sharing, Father

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful reflection Father. It reminded me of a recent experience I had when my room was suddenly plunged into total darkness and I couldn’t see anything. I stopped and breathed and then realized that I could see if I focused on the sources of light in the room and not on the darkness. So it is as we go through rough times – if we keep our eyes on the Lord and His light the darkness fades. Blessings Fr.Don . Miss you!

    Liked by 1 person

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