Mirabai Starr is a published writer of fiction and essays. An adjunct professor of philosophy, religious studies, and Spanish at the University
of Mexico at Taos, she has been studying St. John of the Cross's texts for more than 20 years.
In the preface to this classic mystical text, Starr states: "I wanted to contribute to making Dark Night accessible not only to religious scholars and devout Catholics but to every spiritual seeker who finds her own inner life drying up and dropping into darkness." In the process of translation, she reports, she felt herself undergoing a personal transformation as well.
St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) once wrote: "Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love." This kind of radical thinking got him in trouble with the Carmelite Order of the day who found his devotion to God excessive. He was imprisoned for nine months.
After escaping, he fell into a state of ecstasy, having found God waiting for him in his heart, and wrote the poem "Songs of the Soul: One Dark Night." Later he was urged to write a commentary on these mystical verses, which became known as Dark Night of the Soul. Starr describes it as "a brilliant and penetrating teaching on love and emptiness." In this translation, we are drawn to both the Night of Sense and the Night of the Spirit. And with fresh eyes, we begin to see the benefits and renewal that can come from the struggles of a dark night of the soul. This capacious term seems to extend our sense of spiritual maturation each and every year!