In the night of the senses, we learned that darkness comes because God slams the door shut on the senses. There’s a drying up of what we feel and experience of God, and it’s because he’s turned the light off.
The night of the spirit is a different sort of darkness.
Here, the work of God in the soul is directed toward divine union — the most intimate “one-ing” the soul can ever experience. And so, to accomplish this union, God turns up the light that’s poured into the soul.
The result is utter blindness.
I love the way John of the Cross makes sense of this blindness in response to God’s light:
“The brighter the light, the more blinding it is to the owl. The more directly we gaze at the sun, the more it darkens our visual faculty, depriving it and overwhelming it, because of its inherent weakness.”
God’s light is so bright that it pains and blinds our “eyes,” or soul. We can’t see. We’re putting our hands out in front of us, feeling our way forward without the help of sight to see our way.
As paradoxical as it sounds, the darkness happening here in the night of the spirit is actually light. And it is immensely painful to the soul.
Tomorrow, we’ll learn why.