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Thursday, December 13, 2012

St John of the Cross

Quench my troubles, 
For no one else can soothe them; 
And let my eyes behold You, 
For You are their light, 
And I will keep them for You alone.
St John of the Cross -- Spiritual Canticle

The poetry of St John of the Cross is remarkable not only for its beauty, passion and power, but because he wrote most of it while in prison! John carried his cross not only in name but in fact. His own Carmelite community imprisoned him for nine months because he would not renounce the reform of the Carmelites which he had helped found. Though he did not deserve the hard sentence he received, John did not complain but used the time to reflect, pray, and memorize the poems he wrote in the dark. Clearly, God supported him while imprisoned in a 10x6 ft cell, and that was enough of a consolation to keep John alive and growing in spirit.

Though most of us will not have to endure months in a dark cell, all of us do have dark moments. When a friend falls sick, a relative dies, a niece or nephew loses his or her job, or the marriage of friends collapses, we are often are unable to find a word that helps others make sense of the mess, and the darkness they feel overshadows us as well. 

The example of John of Cross can help us. When darkness comes, remember the one who is the light. Pray more, even without consolation. Laugh more even if you don't feel it, and take more time for quiet and reflection. Sometimes when we are strong enough to say nothing, our message is the strongest.

Today, sit in the dark and pray for someone in pain.

How do you manage the dark periods in your life or the life of your family?

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