Here is a revised and expanded edition of Joyce Rupp's 1994 paperback in which she learns to befriend the darkness of suffering, fear, and abandonment as a holy experience. Twenty years later, she describes an ever-growing assurance that "the unwelcome parts of life hold the possibility of being catalysts for spiritual transformation."
Joyce Rupp, who is profiled in our Living Spiritual Teachers Project, is a member of the Servite community and an award-winning author of numerous books. She currently divides her time among writing, spiritual direction, speaking at conferences, and directing retreats.
In the opening chapter, the author lists the various ways in which emotional, mental, and spiritual darkness can overtake us. She then delineates types of depression which can lead to loss of self-esteem and destructive and deceptive mind-messages which stifle our soulfulness and creativity.
Rupp quotes spiritual writer and novelist Sue Monk kidd: "Too many of us panic in the dark. We don't understand that it's a holy dark and that the idea is to surrender to it and journey through to real light."
We often forget or underestimate that the Saturday before the Resurrection is a time pregnant with possibility as we await the new life and light just around the bend. Waiting without answers in the dark is a necessary "in-between time," when we are open to the Holy One's nearness. Rupp ends on a high and holy note as she marvels at "the countless and surprising ways the light gradually comes and takes over the darkness."
For our reflections and journaling upon this reality, she offers this exercise:
"Light a candle and hold it between your hands. Notice the light and warmth coming from the candle. Extend the candle in front of you as a symbol of your hope for the future, then set the candle down and write about the guiding, healing Light within you."