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Night of the Senses

alec vanderboom

It's hard to write much, because I'm in such a weird place. It feels like depression, but it's not. I'm slow moving and my head is in a pea-soup fog, yet inside there is this small piece of pure light. I don't feel morose, as in real depression. I do feel agitated, afflicted and restless.

None of the old comfort tricks work one me anymore. There's no looking forward to movies, or bowls of ice-cream, or reading books or dreaming about the pristine leather couches I'd get from IKEA if only we had the money.

Instead, there is a lot of drudgery. I wash cloth diapers twice a day. I pick up legos. I cook "unfun" food from the cheapest ingredients possible. I conduct AP Socialization for 4 year olds, as in "please don't hit either sister or the dog, even if everyone unfairly swiped the last pretzels from your plate."

And I celebrate the Mass. I adore at Adoration. I struggle through Morning, Evening and Night Prayers of the Daily Hours. I say my rosary without my old enthusiasm.

There are brilliant moments during every day that are beautiful.

Then there is much dampness. There's the daily drudgery. My endless complaints of "this is not the life I ever wanted. Why is it so hard?"

On Sunday night, as I walked my dog, I complained yet again about my life to God. I imagined writing him a letter. My "assignment" as a young mother in suburbia seemed as foreign and difficult as a missionary post in a tropical climate. "Conditions are so hard here," I thought. "I'm not having any fun here. I must be working on the wrong assignment."

Then I felt this gentle hug and a picture of my dearest saints, the ones who went through hard times interiorarily came to mind. I thought about Mother Theresa and St. Therese. "You're sisters didn't have fun in their assignments either . . . The fact that you're not having fun means that your one the right assignment."

He speaks the truth to our hearts. The truth is usually not what we want to hear. I want to hear that my suffering is almost over, that material aid and comfort is around the corner. Instead I keep stumbling upon passages like this:

"For true Eucharistic devotion, the Pope calls for a total detachment from all earthly values and austere attachment to the Word of God. St. John of the Cross teaches that one can come to the vision of the Holy Trinity only by entering into a two-fold night; the night of the senses and the night of faith. He explains the spiritual poverty required of the night of the senses: "To reach satisfaction in all, desire statisfaction in nothing. To come to possess all, desire to possess nothing. To be all, desire to be nothing." (pg. 26)

Reassuring that I'm on the spiritual path up Mount Carmel, yet not reassuring that my requests for new contact lens or a house with three bedrooms are going to be answered any time soon.

My prayers are with all of you!