It is snowing in Chicago today. The rain started earlier and now the flurries, which at first mingled with the rain, have won the battle for the skies. Many of the trees still have red, yellow and even green leaves, but this weather will bring the leaves down—and so it has always been in the Midwest.
Sometimes, snow flurries do not occur until the end of November, but the Lake Effect here in Chicago can bring earlier precipitation which includes snow.
In the “yard” next door, the snow is beginning to stick. The snow is building up on the ground and on the bushes. However, the giant Red Maple has not yet lost its leaves and stands like a stricken Burning Bush, guiding all eyes to its glory.
When the sun was shining earlier yesterday, the Red Maple shown like fire against the blue sky. But, the clouds have taken away the brilliance of the red hues, and, as with the other trees, the wind and snow will cause these scarlet leaves to fall.
Such is the life of the soul. We think we are brilliant when in the sunshine, but when the darkness comes, and the hard times, our brilliance fades, dies, and soon the outward signs of life fall away and blow away. Like this maple, we shall look dead and people will forget the once dynamic colors, walking past the naked tree, without noticing the life within.
Such is the Dark Night. One becomes almost invisible. People do not notice the intense suffering, as God gives the soul cheerfulness in the sadness. This is not a fake cheerfulness, but a confidence that God is working in one despite pain and sorrow. This confidence rests on the knowledge that one is being purified.
Like the tree, however, one’s brilliance must be replaced for a while with the signs of death. No leaves adorn the soul.
All the energies of grace remain hidden and inward. In fact, one is relieved that one becomes invisible. To carry around the wounds of love and the awareness of one’s horribly sinful nature demands a time of secrecy. In the absence of the Bridegroom, all other people and things become like ghostly memories. One walks in a shadow of Darkness and having to deal with the world aggravates one; this is all part of the suffering and demands the heroic growth of patience.
The longer one is in darkness, the more patience one becomes. One no longer demands rights or privileges, but waits. One is becoming a proficient in the ways of the spiritual life. One is moving out of boot camp into special ops, slowly but surely.
Like the Red Maple I see from the window, one loses all outward signs of beauty and comeliness. But, the real life within continues. Such is the Dark Night.