Adults Only

From a book I found yesterday when I went to the bookstore to get batteries for my keyboard:

"'This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared....'

"It must necessarily be so. The true God is beyond human concepts, senses, imagination, memory. On those frequencies He is not reachable. Mother Teresa of Calcutta acknowledged her inability to reach God on human wavelengths in a 1979 letter to one of her spiritual directors, the Reverend Michael Van Der Peet: 'Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me--the silence and the emptiness is so great--that I look and do not see, --listen and do not hear.'

"If a Christian has not yet known this darkness and aridity, it is a sign that the Lord is still treating him like a child at the breast, too unformed for the adult darkness in which alone the true God is found. Any who think they can make idols, or images, or pictures, or concepts of God remain underdeveloped in their faith. Darkness is not a sign of unbelief, or even of doubt, but a sign of the true relation between the Creator and the creature. God is not on our frequency, and when we get beyond our usual range, which in prayer we must, we reach only darkness. This is painful. In a way, it does make one doubt; in another way, experience shows us that when one is no longer a child, one leaves childish ways behind.

"Our intellects, our will--these can reach out to God, like arrows of inquiry shot up into the infinite night. These are not shot in vain. They mark out a direction. Waiting in silence, in abandonment, even in the dry sands of the desert, one comes to know His presence. Not believe in it. Know it. In a 1959 interview with the BBC, C.G. Jung once made the same point. Asked whether he believed in God, Jung replied, 'I don't believe--I know.'

"This is dark knowledge. One cannot expect anyone else to know it, unless they have also walked the rocky and darkling path--or somehow by God's grace been brought to it by a different journey, along a different route. Ascent of the Mountain, Flight of the Dove, I called another book of mine. Some of us labor sweatily, others are borne on eagle's wings.

"I do not mean that this knowledge consists of warm sentiments, feelings of devotion, uplift and 'faith.' I mean a certain quiet emptiness. A dark resonance of wills. Echo to echo....

"I mean the suffering love in which that Light issues forth among us. Not to remove us from suffering. But to transfigure us by means of it."

--Michael Novak, No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers (New York: Doubleday, 2008), pp. 8 (quoting St. John of the Cross), 14-15.


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